Large turnout for hearing on proposed Milwaukee County Budget

November 6, 2015
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Milwaukee County Supervisors listen to public comment on the amended 2016 Milwaukee county budget on November 2, 2015 at the Mitchell Park Domes.

By Steve Waring

Special to The Milwaukee Times

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the proposed 2016 budget and amendments November 2, 2015 at the Mitchell Park Domes, 524 S. Layton Blvd. More than 350 persons were estimated to have attended. An amendment to the original budget proposed by County Executive Chris Abele calls for establishment of a “Joint Task Force on Community Identification Cards” between the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.

The task force is charged with creating a plan to create and issue community photo identification cards. Under the amended budget the Office of Government Affairs is provided an additional $150,000 based on the understanding that the city of Milwaukee will contribute an equal amount. Dozens of Latino Milwaukee residents and supporters called on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to create a county-issued photo identification card so that those without a driver’s license or state-issued photo identification card can receive services, travel without fear of deportation, and be identified at government offices and facilities which require such documents. Many of those who chose to speak required a friend or relative to translate from Spanish to English. One anguished mother said that she was unable to obtain prescription medicine for pain after her son required foot surgery.

Without a photo identification, his recovery was prolonged and he endured more pain than was necessary all because no one in his family had a photo identification card. A number of speakers also thanked the Board of Supervisors for including an additional $300,000 for emergency shelter care, bringing the total for the 2016 Milwaukee County budget to $718,000 similar to the amount adopted in the 2015 budget. No one spoke against the amendment and many supporters who wore matching light-blue t-shirts said that Milwaukee is suffering an epidemic of homelessness.

A young supporter of county-issued photo identification card holds up a sign at the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors budget hearing November 2, 2015 at the Mitchell Park Domes.

A young supporter of county-issued photo identification
card holds up a sign at the Milwaukee County
Board of Supervisors budget hearing November 2, 2015
at the Mitchell Park Domes.

Supervisor Michael Mayo, Sr. held a sleepover to raise awareness of homelessness in Milwaukee County at Dineen Park on October 16-17. Supervisor Mayo remained in the park with the other participants for the entire night. With winter weather soon approaching, donations of personal items and clothing were also collected. Only one person spoke in favor of the creation of an Office of African American Affairs. That amendment would not require any additional funding, according to a document provided prior to the meeting which listed all the amendments proposed by the County Board of Supervisors. It was unanimously included in the budget by the committees on health and human needs