Milwaukee alders: Shared revenue plan 'racist in nature'

Nearly half of Milwaukee Common Council members are calling the state's shared revenue deal "racist in nature." Other city leaders are excited about how the deal will impact the city.

The majority of city leaders can agree that the proposed sales tax for Milwaukee will lessen the city's debt. It's where the money is not allowed to go that has some calling the deal racist.

Some Common Council members feel "what the state is doing to the city of Milwaukee is pretty outrageous."

"I think the governor did the city of Milwaukee a disservice by agreeing to this deal and not threatening a veto or not pursuing a veto, and he pretty much has left us high and dry," said Alderman Robert Bauman.

Right now, Milwaukee is one of the few larger American cities without the power to charge a sales tax. That could all change with the shared revenue deal in Madison. The deal would allow Milwaukee city government to approve a 2% city sales tax, and the county could add to its current rate. If both approve, this would add 2.4 cents for every dollar you spend.

"I do think a referendum is appropriate," said Bauman. "I'm not afraid of our citizens for them to weigh in on this important decision that will raise their taxes significantly."

Instead, the sales tax will be determined by a two-thirds vote of the Common Council.

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Seven of the alders called the deal "racist in nature" after Republicans said the money cannot be used for "woke diversity and equity initiatives."

"The attack on the equity and inclusion provisions is pretty outrageous," said Bauman.

Meanwhile, Mayor Cavalier Johnson and County Executive David Crowley are among some of the leaders in support of the deal, releasing a statement saying, in part,

"This announcement marks a turning point in what has been years of calling on leaders in Madison for a local solution to fund local issues. Our legislators heard us, met with us, listened to their constituents and ultimately agreed that a healthy and stable Milwaukee is in the best interest of the entire state."

Wisconsin Capitol, Madison

FOX6 was not able to speak directly to the mayor Monday, June 12 due to his schedule. We also tried to get Alderman Mark Borkowski's take on the issue. He said he did not want to comment.