Racine Mayor John Dickert says a possible 97 percent cut to Great Lakes restoration funding would be devastating to the lakes and the communities that depend upon them.
An early blueprint suggested the Trump administration was looking at cutting back funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million to just $10 million. The administration’s budget could be released later this week.
Dickert, who appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com, said the GRLI funds provide “start-up money” for local programs that protect the lakes. The loss of the funds would “devastating from so many different levels.”
“Are beaches going to be as clean for their kids to swim in? No. Are we going to have more potential problems with invasive species? Yes. Are you going to have trouble with navigating waters? Yes. More trouble with algae blooms that affect water? Yes. All of these things are related, and all will be dramatically impacted,” Dickert said.
Dickert said he and other Great Lakes mayors will travel to Washington soon to meet with members of Congress about the importance of the Great Lakes funding.
Also on the program, former Wisconsin state Treasurer Jack Voight said constitutional office is part of the “checks and balances” the framers of the state constitution intended.
A constitutional amendment to eliminate the treasurer will go before voters next year. If it passes, the office would be eliminated in 2019.
Supporters of the amendment say the office has few duties and getting rid of it will save taxpayers money. Most of the duties of the treasurer have been transferred to other state agencies.
Voight, a Republican, said he handled over $6 billion in state investments when he served as treasurer from 1995-2007.
“I think the fix is in, that they want to control the money between the governor’s office and the Legislature, and to exempt the state treasurer from having any oversight, any financial voice for the citizens of this state,” Voight said.
He said current state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, who campaigned on eliminating the office, “doesn’t care about the constitution.”
“He doesn’t care about his oath of office. He doesn’t care about the checks and balances for the taxpayer. All he wants to be is the last state treasurer of this state,” Voight said, adding that he will work to educate voters about the importance of the office ahead of next year’s vote.
Also on the show, Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay, said he has been “amazed by the outpouring of support” from the community after a series of threats against the center.
The JCC has had four threats made against it since January, causing it to temporarily shut down every time. Nationwide, there have been at least 150 threats made against Jewish institutions in recent weeks.
“This is a really personal thing that’s happening,” Shapiro said. “Some people are nervous. I think some people are angry. Some people are saying I am going to come more often.”
Shapiro praised local and state officials, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Republican Gov. Scott Walker for their response and support after the series of threats.
“Gov. Walker was nothing short of astounding, in our conversations, of his pledge of support in every way,” Shapiro said. “We have been receiving the intelligence, personnel and support of the state.”
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