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What I Like

Dave lives in Bay View and is a graduate student at Marquette University. He is a student of politics and history, a skeptic, optimist, and writer, among other things.

I Like Higher Taxes As Much As The Next Guy

taxes parks prisons walker

Or at least the next 52% of guys who voted last November for a Milwaukee county sales tax increase dedicated to parks and transit. And even though those 52% of guys, many of whom were surely female, voted for the higher tax it has not been implemented.

Why is that? Because until August Governor Doyle was still acting as if he were running for reelection next fall.

And if he did, I would have voted for him. And it would have been an unpleasant experience for both of us.

So he and the Democrats in the state legislature who need to approve a dedicated sales tax increase have not. Because they are afraid that if they raise taxes, the Republicans will accuse them of raising taxes. And Republicans don’t think anyone should pay taxes for anything, much less parks, which should either be privatized or turned into prisons.

As reported in the Journal Sentinel, “in the 1990s, new prisons became economic anchors for many rural areas…  as the number of adult inmates more than doubled.” (7/22/2003)

Which gives me an idea.

The parks budget is less than half of what it was twenty years ago adjusted for inflation. And Scott Walker’s 2010 budget calls for the elimination of 400 more county employees and a 3% wage cut.

But when Walker was a state legislator, he wrote the Truth in Sentencing law to eliminate any chance of parole for felons. So there it is, an alternative to the sales tax increase: parks employees that Scott Walker will never try to get rid of.

Felons.

They can repair pavilions and pick up trash and reseed the greens because they’ll be living in the parks. Humboldt Park Penitentiary.  See?

And studies show that psychological benefits are among the advantages of urban green spaces. Who better to experience an increase in calm and decrease in violent behavior than those serving mandatory minimum sentences with no chance of release? They’ll get plenty of exercise, and their dangerous presence in the neighborhood will be counteracted by the increased property values and neighborhood development associated with well-managed urban parks.

Or the state legislature could approve the sales tax increase that Milwaukee county voters endorsed last year. The dedicated tax would mean parks no longer need to be funded with property taxes, so if done correctly it wouldn’t even mean a tax increase, only a protection of and dedication to the funding of parks.

Representative Christine Sinicki, whose district includes Cudahy, St. Francis and parts of Bay View, is reintroducing a 0.5% sales tax increase for “parks, recreation, and culture”. The governor has not yet been heard from. 

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