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Rotunda Report
  • Rotunda Report
    October 10, 2022

    State Bar Supports Criminal Justice Agency Requests for Fiscal 2023-2025 Budget

    In September, state agencies submitted their 2023-2025 fiscal requests to help shape the upcoming budget. The State Bar supports requests for increased investment in our criminal justice system.

    Devin Martin

    Statue of Justice with Legal Books

    October 10, 2022 – On September 15, all state agencies were required to submit their budget proposals to the Department of Administration for consideration in crafting the 2023-25 state budget. The State Public Defender and District Attorneys were a part of that submission. The requests from prosecutors and defenders in Wisconsin include increases in funding that would be a significant step up from previous year’s requests. A detailed description of the agency requests follows.

    State Public Defenders Office

    The SPD is requesting an overall increase of 18% from the current budget, as well as 67 additional new staff positions. New staff requests include:

    • 62 in the trial division (25 paralegals, 13 investigators, 9 client services specialists 15 legal secretaries)

    • 2 in the appellate division (paralegals)

    • 3 in administration (1 training, 1 IT, 1 HR)

    The budget requests also asks for increased attorney compensation, including:

    • An increase the minimum attorney salary to $35/hour

    • Raising pay for existing staff attorneys to the new minimum

    • Full funding of merit pay in both years of the biennium

    Devin MartinDevin Martin is grassroots outreach coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    The SPD made a substantial request in the Private Bar reimbursement rate. Including an increase rate to $125/hour for in-court work, $100/hour for out-of-court work and $50/hour in travel time.

    Other requests include:

    • Additional workload adjustment in the trial division to account for time spent facilitating access to the court (intake, return on warrants, etc.) and in treatment court

    • Tuition reimbursement/loan assistance pilot program of $500,000 per year total, with grants available to both staff and private bar attorneys

    • Two year extension of the Parental CHIPS pilot program

    • Changes to certain criminal statutes to decriminalize or create a graduated penalty structure for certain lower level crimes, to reduce the number of cases in the criminal legal system

    District Attorneys

    District Attorneys are requesting an overall increase of 31% from the current budget. There are 48.4 new General Purpose Revenue-funded positions requested to address increased crime, court congestion, and additional responsibilities that have been assigned to prosecutors due to changes in technology (e.g., Police body cams) and changes in the law (e.g., Marsy’s Law). The staff positions are requested for the following counties:

    • Brown 6.0 full-time equivalent (FTE)

    • Clark 2.0 FTE

    • Dane 10.0 FTE

    • Dodge 1.0 FTE

    • Eau Claire 2.0 FTE

    • Fond du Lac 2.0 FTE

    • Grant 1.0 FTE

    • Marathon 1.0 FTE

    • Marinette 1.0 FTE

    • Milwaukee 4.0 FTE

    • Monroe 2.0 FTE

    • Outagamie 2.0 FTE

    • Sauk 2.0 FTE

    • St. Croix 1.0 FTE

    • Walworth 3.0 FTE

    • Waukesha 7.4 FTE

    • Waupaca 1.0 FTE

    District Attorneys are also asking for an increase in compensation, including:

    • Increasing the minimum attorney salary to $35/hour

    • Raising pay for existing staff attorneys to the new minimum

    • Full funding of merit pay in both years of the biennium

    For Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs), there is a request for increased full time equivalent and funding for part-time:

    • Langlade County increase a current 0.5 FTE to full-time

    • Oneida County increase a current 0.5 FTE to full-time

    • Ozaukee County increase a current 0.6 FTE to full-time

    The following are requests to convert multiples of program revenue (PR) funded positions to general purpose revenue (GPR) funded positions:

    • Fond Du Lac County District Attorney requests conversion of a 1.0 FTE ADA position.

    • The Milwaukee County DA requests conversion of 6.0 FTE:

    • 2.0 FTE Community Prosecutor

    • 1.0 FTE for the Project Safe Neighborhood prosecutor

    • 1.0 FTE to replace a Federal Byrne JAG Grant

    • 2.0 FTE prosecutor positions currently funded via a grant from the MacArthur Foundation

    District Attorneys requested conversion of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funded positions to GPR positions:

    • The Fond Du Lac County DA - 1.5 FTE ADA positions

    • The Kenosha County DA - 2.0 FTE ADA positions

    • The Outagamie County DA - 2.0 FTE ADA positions

    Finally, the request includes increased funding to the agency supplies and services line to pay for IT hardware, software, legal research services and shared service assessments, as well as for the authority to purchase professional liability insurance if an aggrieved party files a grievance with the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

    State Bar Supports Requests

    Wisconsin’s judicial system is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic on caseloads, as well as new challenges of recruiting and keeping experienced staff in today’s tight labor market. The State Bar of Wisconsin supports agency requests for increased funding for prosecutors and public defenders that is adequate to ensure the ethical, effective representation of both the public and defendants in criminal cases.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin firmly believes that our court system needs these fiscal investments and our attorney members look forward to working with the governor and legislature to incorporate these needs into the upcoming budget. You can read the full statement of support from State Bar President Margaret Hickey here.

    What You Can Do: State Bar of Wisconsin Advocacy Network

    Advocacy Network

    To learn more and get involved in the State Bar’s efforts, we encourage you to sign up to the Advocacy Network, the State Bar’s grassroots legislative advocacy program, and to send messages of support to your elected officials about issues affecting the legal profession. You can also reach out to Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Devin Martin to inquire about setting up a meeting between your legal colleagues and your legislators.

    You can also subscribe to the Rotunda Report and follow us on Twitter to stay informed and get involved in the legislative process.

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