Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett fights to keep residency requirement

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by Chris Patterson
by Matt Doyle

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is taking the fight to keep the city's residency rule to Madison. He joined other mayors and city leaders across the state asking why the state feels it needs to step in and remove residency requirements.

The City of Milwaukee requires all its employees to live in the city. Mayor Barrett says the Milwaukee Police Association and Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Local 215 are behind the effort to repeal this residency requirement. He believes these two organizations are pulling lawmaker's strings.

Governor Walker says it's important to public safety employees, but it really affects MPS.

"The Milwaukee Public Schools for as long as I can remember had a hard time recruiting," Walker said.  "By not having a residency requirement that's just one more way they can bring good, quality teachers to the city of Milwaukee."

The President of Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association insists it's a personal issue.

Specifically, an education issue.

 "We are very limited on the choices for education," Dave Seager said.  "That constricts the decisions that we make on a family level."

He also said city leaders advised them to make the push in Madison.

"That's in fact where the mayor and the leadership of the city of Milwaukee told us to take it to get the law changed."

Mayor Barrett admits he's facing an uphill battle since the repeal of the residency requirement is in the state budget. It's a budget that the Republican majority state legislature will most likely pass.

"During the nine years that the Governor was the County Executive of Milwaukee, at no time did he move to remove the residency requirement then. Now all of a sudden it has become an issue of statewide concern for him," says Barrett. "If it was a big issue, it would have been a big issue then."

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