Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul released his biennial budget request this month, providing a roadmap for how the state can increase its’ commitment to public safety after years of the Republican led legislature underfunding local units of government responsible for policing.
According to reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Kaul noted in an interview that for years the state legislature had “significantly underfunded” the state’s criminal justice system. Republicans have controlled the state legislature since 2009.
As part of the biennial budget process in Wisconsin, state agencies and departments submit budget requests for the next two years every fall. The request from Kaul on behalf of the State Department of Justice contains several high profile requests, including;
- Dedicating a portion of the state’s more than $5 billion surplus to invest in mental health initiatives and gun safety measures originally included in the ‘Safer Wisconsin’ proposal the Republican legislature ignored last year.
- More than 30 new staff positions within the State Crime Lab, including DNA analysts and toxicologists.
- New funding for a hate crimes hotline that would increase the likelihood that hate crimes are reported, and prosecuted appropriately.
- Continued operation of the ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ tip line dedicated to school safety. Originally created by a federal grant, the number of tips submitted increased 15% in its second year of operation.
Kaul’s 2023-2024 budget request comes as he is locked in a tough re-election campaign, encountering the same untruthful attacks from Republicans on questions of public safety as other high profile Democrats.
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