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County Exec. Abele vetoes 25 budget amendments, signs 21

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele signed vetoes Tuesday, November 13th on a budget passed by the Milwaukee County Board. The Milwaukee County Board made 46 changes to the budget Abele created. Of those changes, Abele signed 21 on Tuesday and vetoed 25.

Abele said Tuesday his vetoes will mean the biggest reduction in the county tax levy since 1994. The two biggest vetoes are related to employee health benefits and parks patrols.

Abele’s vetoes strike a compromise on employee health care, keeping in $1.7 million in lower deductibles and prescription costs while removing the County Board’s $3.6 million plan to fund employee Flexible Spending Accounts.

Using his veto pen, Abele also restored the Parks Patrol Plan agreed to by the city of Milwaukee and the MPD. This plan would turn over policing of county parks to MPD and local municipalities, and take it away from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office.

Abele's vetoes also keep the current Economic Development Director in place and cuts the Board’s $50,000 slush fund to hire private attorneys -- a plan that violates state law.

“Some of the Supervisors amendments made the 2013 Budget stronger; however, some shifted the focus away from what I think the core goal of Milwaukee County Government is: providing services in a sustainable way. I am asking the Board to sustain my vetoes at their meeting (Wednesday)," Abele said in a statement to FOX6 News.
Abele’s other vetoes included:

  • Keeping the plan in place to have an independent Superintendent take over control of the County Correctional Facility-South, however the veto removes the arbitrary start date in order to get the best person and process possible.
  • Restoring funding to non-profit groups like the Boys and Girls Club, Easter Seals and Latino Community Center by vetoing a redundant loan program.
  • Continuing to move toward the nationally recognized goal of moving mental health care into the community.
  • Removing unnecessary and unneeded employee positions that needlessly cost taxpayers.
  • Restoring a meaningful employee wellness program without raiding the County’s rainy day reserve.
  • Eliminating an earmark that uses hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to fund public art with the goal of restoring a more common sense, sustainable public art program in 2014.        

Abele cannot veto something that isn't in the budget, but he does have the ability, through Wisconsin law, to pick words out of the budget, piece them together and create the proposal he wants.

"Whether or not I think that the tools or law on the books when I got here are the best ones, if I can use anything I've got to help provide more value for you and more public safety, then I'll do it," Abele said.

"Unfortunately the County Executive does have the Vanna White veto, or the Frankenstein veto, and he can string together words and letters and sentences to create new legislation. Unfortunately, that's a very bad precedent to set," Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan said.

The County Board will meet Wednesday, and would need a 2/3 vote to override any vetoes. 

Dimitrijevic said she believes the County Board will override the parks patrol veto, if for no other reason that principle alone.

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