2023 Milwaukee Budget Proposal; Mayor Johnson proposes his 1st plan


Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson presented his proposed city budget for 2023 on Tuesday morning, September 20.

Johnson said the budget was balanced through normal attrition, but that method is not sustainable. Limited on ways to generate revenue, he said more money needed to come back to the city from the state.

“As you’ll see, we’re tightly constrained by limited income,” Johnson said. “Actually, ‘forced’ is the wrong word. We’re crippled – forced to cut long-established services because we don’t have the money we need. Put simply, our costs are rising and our income is stable.”

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As Johnson presented his first budget proposal inside City Hall, a group that wanted the money taken out of the police department and placed elsewhere in the city remained silent.

“The magnitude of our investment is reflected in this fact: The Milwaukee Police Department’s budget is close to the city’s property tax set,” Johnson said. $305 million of the $311 million property tax is budgeted for the police.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s budget speech to the Milwaukee City Council on September 20, 2022.

In the absence of other options, such as sales, revenue or hotel taxes, Johnson’s $1.7 billion proposal sees the total property tax levy increase by about 2%. Owners with a median value seeing taxes and fees increase by approximately $48.60, funded positions will be reduced through attrition – including 17 police officers.

“We’re at a point right now in Milwaukee where we can hit our targets and balance budgets with the attrition that will naturally occur,” Johnson said. “I can’t say that will be the case in the future.”

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The mayor said the city’s $100 million pension obligation payout, coupled with inflation and the state’s limited shared revenue, puts the city in the position it is — and the only solution is in Madison.

“We need state assistance to stave off this potential future,” Johnson said.

African-American panel during Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s budget speech on September 20, 2022.

On Tuesday, a group called the African American Round Table (AART) called on the city to move to a budget process in which community members decide where public funds are spent.

“They’re not listening,” said AART member and coalition member Devin Anderson.

“It’s the status quo, and we’re saying no. We’re saying no to the status quo,” said Markasa Tucker-Harris, executive director of AART.

Budget committee meetings begin next week.

Johnson said Madison lawmakers know the issues facing the city, and it’s not just Milwaukee. The Wisconsin Legislature is out of session and an election is approaching.

The mayor also said he’s optimistic that lawmakers can come up with solutions, giving the city more leverage on how it can raise revenue — hopefully sooner rather than later.

FULL TEXT: Mayor Johnson’s speech on the 2023 budget proposal

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