Shaking up state government: Scott Walker's 'bold proposal' to merge state agencies

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Governor Scott Walker says he's considering getting rid of some state agencies -- or merging them to save money. The announcement comes as the governor is weighing ideas for the next state budget.

Governor Scott Walker is weighing what he calls a "bold proposal" to merge state agencies, cutting staff, consolidating programs and streamlining services to save money.

"With a new team, that gives us a fresh opportunity, a new budget for the next two years for us to really examine, are we doing things the right way," said Walker.

Walker is working on the state's next two-year budget, which he will present in January.

"It would be not about saving money, but ultimately about making things more efficient more effective, more accountable to the public," Walker said.

Democratic State Representative, Josh Zepnick of Milwaukee, says the idea of sharing resources and eliminating redundant services has worked on the local and county level in the past.

"I see no reason why that kind of modeling couldn't work well if it's done properly with state programs or state agencies," said Zepnick.

The governor isn't releasing details of the plan yet, so it's not clear which agencies he's considering, but Zepnick warns that any consolidation plan must weigh the possibility of losing federal funding.

"We need to be able to navigate between the federal funds, the state funds and any other dollars that come in that you're still efficiently and effectively able to deliver services," Zepnick said.

The state of Wisconsin employs nearly 40,000 workers. Walker foresees merging departments that overlap services -- and saving the salaries of those in leadership positions.

"If you have two or three agencies coming together, you can reduce the number of cabinet members, but as secretary, deputy secretary assistants, there's other appointed positions -- public affairs officer, legislative liaison, corporation counsel -- things of that nature," Walker said.

Governor Walker wants a top-down review of all state agencies. He's asked his cabinet members to assess what their agencies do well, and what they don't do well. That means the next budget could bring some big changes to the structure of state government.