Paff says federal government ‘bankrupting America’ as other alderpersons support Biden jobs plan

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KENOSHA ⏤ In what has become a routine at City Council meetings, Dist. 6 Ald. David Paff not only voted in opposition of nearly all his colleagues, but also used his comments to denounce the federal government and President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

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Paff’s statements came during discussion of a resolution supporting the jobs plan, presented by Dist. 13 Ald. Curt Wilson. 

Full audio of American Jobs Plan resolution discussion June 7, 2021

Principal sponsor explains the resolution

Before the discussion opened up, Wilson ⏤ the resolution’s principal sponsor ⏤ explained the reasoning behind it. 

For Wilson, the American Jobs Plan is a chance for Kenosha, if it receives funding, to offset costs of its high-priority projects. For this reason, he drafted the resolution with the help of City Attorney Ed Antaramian and City Administrator John Morrissey.

“First, I’d like to start off by saying that the city of Kenosha has several construction projects that President Biden’s American Jobs Plan could offset some of the cost.

And potentially allow the city to complete more projects that are part of our future planning.”

Dist. 13 Ald. Curt Wilson

Local projects the plan could fund

High-priority city projects that the jobs plan could potentially help with, according to Wilson, include:

  • The extension of State Highway 158 (52nd Street) from 128th Avenue to 120th Avenue, which would serve the 3,300 acres that will be annexed into the city from the town of Paris;
  • The water sewer, storm sewer, streets and sidewalks in the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood; 
  • Five shoreline projects at an estimated cost around $20 million; 
  • Revetments, $19 million estimated cost;
  • 16th Avenue extension from 16th Street to 63rd Street, with an estimated cost of $3.1 million;
  • The 19th Avenue extension, from 60th Street to 63rd Street, at a cost of $3 million estimated;
  • The north harbor walkway, $1.2 million estimated cost, including design and construction;
  • Downtown redevelopment, $3.5 million to $5 million estimated cost;
  • Any future wastewater treatment plant expansion, which Wilson states could cost “upwards of $100 million”;
  • The lead service replacement program, as the city could utilize funding to replace the lead services throughout the city. This has a cost of between $7 million and $10 million;
  • Widening Highway 158 from Highway H to Green Bay Road; 
  • And a new Public Works campus. 

“As outlined in the resolution throughout the wherases, the president’s American Jobs Plan will help municipalities like ours all over the country,” Wilson said.

 “Not only with the wide range of infrastructure needs, but the creation of good-paying jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans and more.”

Wilson also mentioned that polls show strong bipartisan support for the jobs plan.

“And with that, I’m very optimistic the parties in Washington, along with the White House, will finalize the terms of the American Jobs Plan sometime in the future.”

Dist. 13 Ald. Curt Wilson full comments

Paff goes after federal government

While Wilson’s examples focused primarily on local projects that the plan could help, Paff, in his comments, alleged that the money would never truly make it to the people of Kenosha and stated that the federal government needs to “stop bankrupting America.”

“I just don’t think the country can sustain that kind of debt,” Paff said. “The people are going to have to pay this back. So you know, in my opinion, Wall Street runs D.C. with all of the money that flows back and forth between government and corporations.

“And I think that, although it sounds good to have such a jobs bill like this, we never see this really come to fruition.”

While offering no evidence for his claims, Paff also stated that taxes would go way up if the plan passed. 

“Our taxes are going to go up tremendously,” Paff said. “They could even double with all of this debt the United States is having to pay back. And so, people in my district, you know, I have a lot of retirees here. You know, I’m talking for them. Some of them are on fixed income; they can’t afford additional taxes. And every time government raises taxes, the people get upset and rightfully so. We only have so many dollars to spend from day-to-day from our incomes, whatever our source of income is. 

“And for the government to keep spending money like they are, it’s going to bankrupt America. And that’s the talk right now with all of the spending going on. So everybody’s taxes are going to skyrocket.”

Dist. 6 Ald. David Paff
Dist. 6 Ald. David Paff full comments

Paff both acknowledges need and blocks support

The most curious part of Paff’s comment’s Monday night is that after attacking the plan, he highlighted the need for it. 

“For it to go into infrastructure would be great, we have so many needs in our community; every community in the United States does ⏤ the homelessness, the infrastructure, the roads, the bridges, transportation ⏤ all of these. But unfortunately, I just don’t see this as being a viable way to do it.”

Paff did not offer an alternative to help locally; however, he ended by stating to his colleagues he didn’t want the council to “send the wrong message.”

“I don’t think we need to send the wrong message on behalf of the people, the taxpayers. At least of District 6; I can’t speak to other districts. But I don’t think we need to send a message that their taxes are going to increase. 

So we don’t need to bankrupt America. So thank you, and I yield.” 

Dist. 6 Ald. David Paff

Prozanski sees it as once-in-a-generation opportunity

Following Paff’s comments, both Dist. 14 Ald. Dan Prozanski and Dist. 3 Ald. Jan Michalski seemed to respond to Paff in support of the resolution.

For Prozanski, the jobs plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

“I think that, every generation, an opportunity comes along to make a huge impact in this country,” Prozanski said. “And I think that a program the scale of the one that’s being proposed here can only be sort of second only to the programs that were created during the Great Depression.”

He also seemed to respond to Paff’s concern over spending with the national debt where it is.

“Your infrastructure is the basis, sort of, of all of our existence. The roads that we travel on, the power grid, the water that we drink, the shorelines that protect us from Lake Michigan encroaching. All of it, it’s all infrastructure. 

And improvements to infrastructure while you can expense today will pay huge dividends in the future.”

Dist. 14 Ald. Dan Prozanski
Dist. 14 Ald. Dan Prozanski comments, Dist. 3 Ald. Jan Michalski comments and vote

Michalski backs Prozanski’s comments

Michalski also backed up Prozanski and the jobs plan in his comments, evoking the theory of Keynesian economics. 

“When it comes to situations where there’s dire need, it’s Keynesian economics that basically that’s not the time to cut spending, that’s the time to increase spending,” Michalski said. “Because down the road you’ll save money. You’ll spend it today, but down the road, you’ll accrue all kinds of benefits.”

He also pointed out how infrastructure is a main thing that either attracts or deters businesses from locating to a place.

“If you want to have businesses stay in this country, if you want to have businesses prosper, having a decayed infrastructure is not the way to do it. But having infrastructure brought up to date helps induce businesses to stick around or come here.” 

Dist. 3 Ald. Jan Michalski

The council passed the resolution 16-1, Paff the lone dissenting vote.

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