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Senate passes bill slashing powers of Milwaukee County Board

Wisconsin State Capitol at night
Wisconsin State Capitol at night

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin lawmakers have given their final approval to a bill that reduces the powers of the Milwaukee County Board.

The Senate okayed the measure 19-14 Tuesday. The Assembly later ratified some recent changes made by a Senate committee.

The bill was then sent to Governor Scott Walker – who said he favors it.

Wauwatosa Republican Leah Vukmir said the state needed to step in to reduce what she called “out of control” spending and power by supervisors in Wisconsin’s largest county.

Senate President Mike Ellis got behind the bill after it was learned that the board authorized talks with a county employee union that was de-certified.

Milwaukee Democrat Tim Carpenter accused lawmakers of picking on his home county. In his words, “We are really feeling under siege.”

Despite the slim down of the County Board, lawmakers are considering measures to restrict residency rules for Milwaukee’s public employees, and to make it harder to start a city street car project.

The county measure would reduce the board’s budget by two-thirds and limit supervisors’ power. A referendum would be held next year on cutting the members’ pay by 50 percent.