MADISON (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker has included a provision in his budget plan to end residency requirements for public workers, saying schools and other municipalities should not tell their employees where to live.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the plan would affect current and future employees in about 127 municipalities, including Milwaukee, the state's largest city.
Walker had been expected to push for an end to residency rules in Milwaukee, but it wasn't clear until his biennial budget address Wednesday night that he wanted to eliminate them statewide.
Milwaukee city officials, including Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett, oppose Walker's plan to abandon the city's 75-year-old residency law, saying it has not hurt the city's ability to hire and comes at a time when the city has many empty homes because of foreclosures.
Barrett also told the newspaper that Walker was looking to eliminate the residency requirement because Milwaukee police and firefighters don't like it and they backed Walker in last year's recall election. Barrett ran unsuccessfully against Walker in that election.
Spokesmen for the Wisconsin Counties Association and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, told The Associated Press on Thursday that they weren't sure what the effect would be outside Milwaukee County if Walker was successful.
Jon Hochkammer, legislative director of the Wisconsin Counties Association, said he didn't know of any counties other than Milwaukee County that had residency rules.
Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, which represents about 600 cities and villages, said he thought the impact might be greater in smaller communities where there was a more limited supply of potential workers and officials might be more tempted to hire non-residents.
Madison and Green Bay have limited residency requirements. Madison requires department heads to live in the city and other municipal professional and supervisors to live in surrounding Dane County. Other employees can live where they wish..
In Green Bay, only department heads are required to live in the city.
Thompson said he was surprised to see the residency rules addressed in Walker's budget plan and would have preferred that the two issues be kept separate. He said he will discuss the proposal with member municipalities in the next two weeks before taking a position on it.
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