Sunday, September 22, 2019

WisGOPs try to stir up NON-troversy on DAs that they caused

I wanted to riff a bit on a recent issue WisGOPs are trying to stir up regarding district attorneys. And it's important to know how we got here, and what the concerns are...and why they're largely BS.

In WisGOP's 8 years of complete control of state government from 2011-2019, they barely added any funding to counties to hire District Attorneys to prosecute crimes. This resulted in a major shortage in prosecutors, and delays in justice.

So in his first state budget, Governor Evers proposed adding state funding to support several more local district attorneys in Wisconsin (we require these places to have DAs, the least we can do is pay for them), and Republicans added many more positions and more funding as the budget was deliberated through the Legislature. But Republicans also specified where those DAs would be, and they were overwhelmingly in red-voting counties.

Evers used his veto pen to say "Thanks for the money, but I'll decide where those positions go." And then the Governor announced this week where the positions were. Republicans predictably whined.

Let's get to the numbers on this question.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s budget paper on District Attorneys gives a great background on this, and not only does it show that a total of only 9 state-funded prosecutors were added in 2005-17,it also explains that some of these places are losing non-state funding for prosecutors, leading the state to make up the difference.

For example, Fond du Lac County still gets state taxpayers to pay for 2 more prosecutors, and the one that Evers “cut” seems to be a position that the federal Violence Against Women Act has been paying for. Instead, those duties will be absorbed by the current prosecutors in Fondy, and/or the 2 new prosecutors the state will now be paying for.

Marathon County is a similar story, where the DA’s office in Wausau lost VAWA funding in 2015. Combined with a county budget crunch, it had become difficult for Marathon County to continue prosecuting those cases, and also continue with specialty prosecutors that deal with restorative justice and OWI cases.

So basically Wisconsinites are picking up the tab to allow Marathon County to keep doing these prosecutions (which is fine, but let’s be real about this), and paying for an extra prosecutor on top of that. But apparently that’s not good enough for Wausau State Rep (and former talk show host) Pat Snyder.
“Time and again Governor Evers has prioritized Madison and Milwaukee over citizens in the rest of the state, and this decision is no different. Governor Evers has, once again, blatantly disregarded the needs of my community by making decisions that benefit his base at the expense of Marathon County. His administration’s allocation of these positions directly pulls one position that was assigned to Marathon County to make it available to Milwaukee and Dane Counties.”…

“In the past several weeks alone Marathon County has seen serious incidents of violence; continued escalation of drug-related crimes; and victimization of children,” Rep. Snyder added. “The additional 4.5 ADA positions in the Legislature’s budget were critical to ensuring that our law enforcement officers have the resources that they need to bring prompt justice for victims. The Governor’s reallocation is a step backward and a huge detriment to Marathon County.”
Hey Pat, Marathon County has added all of 2,300 people since 2010 while Dane County has added nearly 50,000, and we’re getting as many new full-time prosecutors paid for as you are. Stop whining, or allow more local governments more flexibility to raise their own money through a sales tax.

As for Milwaukee, that’s simply replacing positions that were funded in another grant, just like how state funding is replacing Marathon County prosecutors that were grant-funded.
The bill recommends the conversion of an additional 3.0 PR positions to GPR funding for the violent crimes unit in Milwaukee County. Funding is currently provided by a grant from the North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking area and office of National Drug Control Policy. The Milwaukee County DA's office has been advised that the three positions will no longer be funded after December 31, 2019. These three positions are half of six ADA positions that provided legal assistance and advice in support of HIDTA initiative in order to help target drug trafficking organizations and violent gangs. The ADAs work with HIDTA officers during investigations including: drafting, reviewing and approving applications for search warrants, subpoenas for records, wiretap orders, and electronic surveillance orders, and prosecute criminal cases in state court. The ADAs help coordinate referrals for federal prosecution when that venue is more appropriate. In addition, HIDTA ADAs work to identify non-violent, low level offenders, whose criminal activity is motivated by substance abuse, in order to redirect them into alternatives to traditional prosecution.
The difference? GOPs on Joint Finance removed Evers’ plans to replace the funding in Milwaukee for those 3 positions, and 1 other funded by an outside grant. But the GOPs had no problem with Evers helping out Marathon County in the same way, so Milwaukee ends up with one FEWER prosecutor in total, and Marathon has 1 MORE. Funny how that works out.

This shows yet again two themes of the Wisconsin GOP.

1. GOPs don't really care about the amount of government spending. They care that their communities and their donors get the tax dollars.

2. They care more about playing political games with resentment than in being serious about handling a prosecutor shortage that they caused through 8 years of inaction.

1 comment:

  1. Nygren also, and predicatably, howled about Evers's proposal to help Milwaukee with its lead-pipe replacement program. You know, to prevent lead poisoning in the state's largest city.

    "We had targeted our response to the lead issue as a local opportunity for communities to get involved and provide assistance at the local level, rather than people from Marinette funding lead replacements in Milwaukee," he said. "I'm not sure that that's necessarily fair from a taxpayer standpoint."

    Just wait until Marinette needs a bailout from Milwaukee and the rest oof the state to address the environmental disaster up there caused by PFAS. Milwaukee will gladly pay, because they are (unlike Nygren) compassionate human beings.