Public Policy Forum Blog

Milwaukee, the bedroom community

Governor Doyle's proposed biennial budget calls for additional spending to grow Milwaukee's economy. Undoubtedly, this spending package will face intense pressure from out-state legislators looking to secure goodies of their own. Can't blame them for that, really.

But according to a recent blog post by Neal Peirce, one of our nation’s foremost writers on metro issues, our second-tier cities (for those of you still living in 1950's Milwaukee, I hate to break the bad news, but our fair city is now decidedly "second-tier" in the pantheon of large US cities) are entirely justified in seeking "more generous state aid for hard-pressed city governments" based on new research by The Brookings Institution.

According to Mr. Peirce, more state investment in a city like Milwaukee is warranted by Milwaukee's proximity to Chicago. Basically, Chicago has stifling traffic congestion, high housing costs, and a seemingly unsustainable and sprawling land-use pattern. Milwaukee, by extension, would be the next logical place to accommodate Chicago's growth. Milwaukee has the existing infrastructure, a large and growing immigrant labor force, a solid existing housing stock, and attractive quality of life amenities.

In other words, invest in Milwaukee to help it become Chicago's newest, largest, and most economically diverse bedroom community.

The Brookings report and Mr. Peirce's commentary should please supporters of both the proposed KRM train line and Gov. Doyle's spending plan for Milwaukee.

Then again, do we really want Milwaukee to become Chicago's newest bedroom community? Let's save that topic for another post.