Milwaukee mayor's 2023 budget proposal faces criticism from Republican attorney general candidate

NOW: Milwaukee mayor’s 2023 budget proposal faces criticism from Republican attorney general candidate

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson's proposed budget for 2023 is facing criticism from some state republicans, specifically personnel cuts to the police force.

Johnson told CBS 58 his proposal to cut sworn police officers by one percent, or 17 positions, was made out of necessity. 

"I would love to have more officers. I want to have more officers. Problem is that I don't get enough money from the state in order to pay for more officers," Johnson said. 

The mayor echoed that message when he presented his budget proposal to the Common Council on Tuesday, saying that the city's costs are rising, but revenue isn't.

Experts have been warning Milwaukee of this possibility for years.

"Sparing any department is going to be exceedingly difficult, especially the largest department in city government, which is the police department, which comprises almost half of its general city purpose spending," Wisconsin Police Forum President Rob Henken said.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum's analysis of the city's fiscal condition in 2022 showed real signs of distress, according to Henken.

The non-partisan research organization said the financial trend has been spiraling downward for years.

"Over previous years, when the city has experienced difficult budgets, there has been a real effort to try to shield the police department budget and to a lesser extent the fire department budget from the brunt of any cuts needed to balance budgets in challenging years, and increasingly the size of the city's structural budget problems has reached the point where it is no longer possible to do that," Henken said.

Eric Toney, the republican attorney general candidate, tweeted that Johnson should reconsider this proposal, adding that the mayor's budget causes concern for the safety of people living around the state.

"People are literally getting away with murder in Milwaukee and that is not a political issue that is a public safety issue and that is how we need to address it," Toney said.

Johnson tweeted back asking Toney to consider asking state republicans to increase funding to support public safety.

"If you're really serious about public safety, if you really want to see us add more officers in Milwaukee and probably other places around the state too, then you should be convincing your colleagues in the legislature to give more money back to local governments," Johnson said.

More budget discussions and amendments are scheduled for October within different committees.

The common council is expected to finalize the budget on Nov. 4. 

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