Seven Republican lawmakers from suburban communities in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties have sent a letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett explaining their worries over his proposed city budget, which would leave 60 police department jobs unfilled. 

"In a city like Milwaukee, which is consistently ranked above Chicago as the fourth or fifth most dangerous city in the United States, a vast reduction in the police force is unconscionable," the letter states. 

Reps. Janel Brandtjen, Menomonee Falls; Mike Kuglitsch, New Berlin; Jim Ott, Mequon; Chuck Wichgers, Muskego; Joe Sanfelippo, New Berlin; Rob Hutton, Brookfield,; and  Sen. Dale Kooyenga, Brookfield all signed the letter, which was sent last week. 

The seven say Barrett's proposed budget will make Milwaukee less safe. 

"It will also have the effect of driving businesses and investments away from the city," the letter says. "Further worsening the city's economic issues."

Barrett said he must leave the 60 police jobs unfilled in order to afford a nearly $100 million spike in Milwaukee's pension payment. 

The Republican lawmakers say in their letter that kind of thinking is both shortsighted and cowardly. 

"Milwaukee needs bold leaders to help turn the city around," the letter adds. "This budget proposal bears no resemblance to the bold leadership for which Milwaukee so desperately yearns."

Staff Reporter

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.