Fair Revenue Sharing: Advocating for More of Our Tax Dollars to Return to Us from the State and Federal Governments for Investment in Our Communities

I am proud that our community is the economic engine of Wisconsin, but I also believe that we need a more fair return on the tax dollars the state and federal governments collect from our people and businesses. We could use those funds to reinvest and increase prosperity here.

Milwaukee County residents are not getting a fair deal. 

We send more money out of our county to the state than we get back. Worse yet, we are denied the ability to raise and direct our tax dollars to the programs that we value and need. (View the graphs below illustrating the imbalance).



In 2009 Milwaukee County sent just over $2.1 billion in tax revenue to Madison. At last count, we are now sending close to $500 million more.*

This chart shows the biggest reason we have a county budget crisis. Hundreds of millions of dollars more are leaving our county every year, but there is no reciprocal increase in funds returning. Clearly we need a better return.*

As a former Milwaukee County Supervisor, I strongly supported holding a public referendum on reducing our property taxes and allowing a small increase in sales tax to provide tax relief for residents while also securing desperately needed funding for our local government. I was proud of my neighbors and community for voicing their approval and hoped that the legislature heeded our request to allow this critical local control. 

However, our calls for local control and flexibility were ignored. I kept up the fight, echoed our demands, and ran for state senate to bring the voice and values of you and our neighbors to the state legislature. I continued my advocacy for local control. Most recently as a state senator, I co-sponsored Senate Bill 576, which would establish a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) model. 

This type of RTA could dramatically help stabilize our transit funding and enhance our economy. 

This year, I am proudly co-sponsoring bills (Senate Bill 471 and Assembly Bill 521) that would allow us to decide by public referendum (public vote) to shift county funding by reducing our property tax and increase revenue from sales tax. 

This proposal is specific to Milwaukee and is supported by area leaders, local businesses, and community organizations. Our county is not alone in facing this budget crisis. This year we tried to fix Milwaukee County’s budget without adequately building a statewide alliance of other municipal governments. Fortunately, my work in the legislature has helped me build relationships across Wisconsin that can help advocate for a statewide change. I have already spoken with Governor Evers who is interested in developing a proposal to allow all Wisconsin Counties more revenue flexibility.

I’m excited that Governor Evers has expressed interest in helping to address this county and statewide crisis and that local leaders have joined the effort to demand a better return for our tax dollars. We can no longer accept the years of county budgets that failed to maintain our parks and facilities, delayed critical investments in our shared infrastructure, and ignored the funding needs of our cultural attractions.  

As your County Executive, I am committed to restoring a fair return of our tax dollars to our county. We deserve to be able to invest our taxes in healthy parks, worthwhile cultural programs, thoughtful senior programs, and reliable transit options. I will continue to work with community leaders, area businesses, Republican and Democrat legislators, and our Governor to end this funding crisis and improve our community.


*Graphs found on the Milwaukee County Website.