Milwaukee board OKs $120,000 in advisory referendums for November ballot


By Adam Tobias | Wisconsin Reporter

MONEY FOR NOTHING?: Milwaukee County taxpayers will pay as much as $160,000 for four referendum questions on the November ballot.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Expect to have your voices heard in November, Milwaukee County voters.

Well, not really.

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved a trio resolutions placing three additional advisory referendum questions on the November ballot, putting taxpayers on the hook for as much as $120,000.

But since the referendums are nonbinding, the results will have no actual bearing on policies.

“We know the answers, and you know what? It doesn’t mean a hill of beans to the state Legislature who has to make the final decision here,” Supervisor James “Luigi” Schmitt told his fellow board members.

Some public officials also have accused their liberal colleagues of using referendums to attract more left-leaning voters to the polls.

The advisory referendums ask voters if the state should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, if the Wisconsin Legislature should accept money from the federal government to expand BadgerCare and if state laws should be changed to allow Milwaukee County to transition its management and administrative functions from an elected county executive to a professional county administrator.

The board also approved a fourth nonbinding referendum question earlier this year asking if the U.S. Constitution should be amended to limit political speech by corporations — and labor unions by extension.

Because of costs associated with printing ballots, programming election machines and newspaper advertising, taxpayers will have to pony up as much as $160,000 for all four referendums, according to the county’s nonpartisan comptroller’s office.

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