Vol. 78, No. 3, March
presents no tax increase budget
Emphasizing the themes of improving education, preserving health
care, creating jobs, and pro-tecting taxpayer dollars, Gov. Doyle
presented his ideas for addressing the $1.6 billion deficit in the 2005
- 07 state budget in his address to the GOP-controlled legislature on
To avoid raising taxes, Doyle proposed transferring $250 million from
the Transportation Fund and $180 million from the Patients Com-pensation
Fund while counting on an anticipated $1.1 billion in additional revenue
due to a growing economy.
The governor vowed to hold the line on property taxes by investing
$380 million to fully fund shared revenue and $850 million to restore
the state's commitment to two-thirds funding of school costs. As a
counter to the GOP-backed three-year property tax freeze, Doyle
recommends a two-year property tax freeze that would limit the amount a
community can raise taxes due to inflation and a percentage of new
Here are some other budget highlights affecting the profession:
State Attorneys. Consolidate attorneys from 17
different state agencies to a single office in the Department of
Administration and eliminate some redundant positions.
Tax-delinquent Attorneys. Add law license to the list of professional
credentials that may be denied or revoked for tax delinquency.
Consumer Protection. Consolidate the consumer protection regulation
function in the Department of Justice, which will locate the decision to
prosecute consumer protection cases in one agency.
Court Interpreter Costs. Provide $303,000 in FY06
and $536,900 in FY07 to counties for reimbursement of court interpreter
costs in criminal, juvenile, mental health, and civil cases, regardless
of indigence. Recommend requiring the court to provide, in all criminal
and civil proceedings, an interpreter for a party or witness who has
limited English proficiency, regardless of indigence.
- Preserve eligibility and benefits for Medicaid, BadgerCare, and
- Implement the BadgerRx prescription drug program for persons who
lack drug coverage.
- Increase funding for the Community Integration Program so more
low-income seniors can stay in their homes rather than reside in nursing
homes with the goal of reducing the nursing home population by 25
percent over the next eight years.
- Provide additional funding to expand the use of elderly benefit
specialists at the county level to assist persons age 60 and over in
obtaining benefits for which they are eligible.
- Cut probation time for nonviolent misdemeanors by half, so that
probation officers can spend more time with serious offenders.
- Create new alcohol and drug abuse treatment facilities at Taycheedah
and Racine Correctional institutions.
- Expand the capacity for the Earned Release Program by 200 beds.
- Direct the Wisconsin Sentencing Commission to report back to the
Legislature by the end of 2005 on proposed alternative dispositions for
nonviolent offenders who are drug or alcohol dependent.
- Provide significant funding for expanding local housing and
treatment options to offenders at risk of being revoked to prison for
technical rule violations.
- Provide an additional $1.7 million annually for AODA treatment for
offenders on probation, parole, or extended supervision.
- Increase the crime lab and drug enforcement surcharge from $7 to $8
to provide for additional DNA analyst positions to address the backlog
at the state crime labs and enhance the use of DNA evidence.
- Create a child abuse prevention and child mental health surcharge on
felony and misdemeanor convictions to support child sexual abuse
prevention strategies such as (a) identification and intervention with
potential child sexual abuse perpetrators and (b) promoting adult
responsibility for protecting children from child sexual abuse.
Governor proposes state funding for civil
legal services to indigent persons
In the proposed 2005 - 07 biennial state budget bill (2005 Assembly
Bill 100), Gov. Doyle appropriates $500,000 to the Office of Justice
Assistance in the state Department of Administration in Fiscal 2007 and
directs that office to pay that amount to the Wisconsin Trust Account
Foundation (WisTAF) to be awarded as grants to programs that provide
civil legal services to indigent persons. (You can find this 1,000-plus
page document at www.legis.state.wi.us/2005/data/AB-100.pdf.)
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The grants may be used only for civil legal services in the
- serving as guardian ad litem for cases with the Bureau of Milwaukee
Child Welfare of the Department of Health and Family Services;
- coordinating insurance benefits for medical assistance
- assisting Wisconsin Works participants in applying for Supplemental
Security Income program benefits;
- obtaining and enforcing child support, including legal services
related to domestic abuse;
- developing discharge plans for mentally ill inmates and assisting
those inmates in their community integration planning; and
- providing ancillary services to juvenile offenders.
WisTAF was created by the supreme court to allocate the money
received from interest on lawyers' trust accounts to programs that
provide civil legal services to the poor. (Note: On Jan. 12, the
Wisconsin Supreme Court granted a WisTAF petition imposing a $50 annual
assessment on all active-licensed Wisconsin lawyers. The assessment will
appear on dues statement for Fiscal 2006.)
U.W. Law School student and graduate earn
For the first time in more than a decade, two national Skadden
Fellows were chosen from the U.W. Law School in the same year. These
highly sought-after annual awards fund the public interest work of law
students who show exceptional promise. Fellowships were granted to U.W.
Law School student Samantha Webb Kading and 2004 graduate Jessica
"This is a testament to our excellent students and the faculty who
teach and inspire them," says Kenneth B. Davis Jr., dean of the Law
School. "I know that the work Samantha and Jessica
will do with their Skadden Fellowships will be a true credit to the U.W.
Law School and an invaluable benefit to the people they assist." Kading
is sponsored by U.W. - Madison's Land Tenure Resource Center and will
work with Wisconsin's 11 Native American tribes on the issue of
fractionation, occurring when land is divided among heirs of succeeding
generations until each owner holds only a tiny interest. She will
educate landowners in the affected communities on the benefits of
consolidation through estate planning. Shoemaker will work with the
Farmers' Legal Action Group Inc., a nonprofit law center in St. Paul,
Minn., to provide counsel to low-income family farmers. She will work to
ensure that farmers have access to legal services in times of distress
so that they are able to keep their land. Because the focus of the
Skadden Fellowship is service, applicants must submit proposals for a
public-interest project and gain sponsor-ship by an organization. The
Skadden Fellowship Foundation, called "a legal Peace Corps" by the
Los Angeles Times, pays selected fellows a salary of $37,500 to
work with their sponsoring organizations to provide legal services to
disadvantaged groups nationwide.
Fellowships are granted for one year, with the expectation of renewal
for a second year. For more information about the foundation, visit www.skadden.com.