Republicans are trying to divide Wisconsinites by using inflammatory rhetoric around public safety and spreading misinformation about the governor’s investments in law enforcement and violence prevention. Governor Evers believes every Wisconsinite deserves to be safe in their community. We must give our communities the tools they need to tackle challenges, including crime, but years of Republican-backed cuts are forcing our cities and towns to do more with less. Republicans are tying the hands of our communities by refusing to increase shared revenue funding — which communities use to fund local services like police and firefighters.
The Facts: Governor Evers has made funding public safety a priority. In Wisconsin, communities rely on shared revenue funding from the legislature to fund local priorities, including first responders. Gov. Evers included tens of millions of dollars in shared revenue increases in both of his budgets, only to have it rejected on multiple attempts by the Republican legislature. Despite this obstruction, Gov. Evers has provided additional funding to law enforcement through funding of body-worn cameras, equipment, training, community-oriented police houses, increases to the Department of Corrections and Department of Justice, and mental health crisis intervention. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/15/22]
Gov. Evers invested $45 million in public safety efforts across the state. This includes more than $8 million for the Office of Violence Prevention in Milwaukee to address crime, ensure safer communities through violence prevention, and provide support for crime victims. [TMJ4, 3/2/22]
- Increasing Shared Revenue: Public safety and law enforcement is largely funded at the hyper-local level. Governor Evers believes we need to give local officials the resources they need to prevent crime, protect their communities, and provide resources for victims services. That’s why he’s proposed increasing shared revenue payments by millions of dollars to local governments in both his 2019 and 2021 budgets.
- Gun Safety: During his first term, he also called on Republican legislators to put aside partisan games and pass common sense gun safety measures to protect Wisconsinites and end the gun violence epidemic. We need to expand universal background checks in Wisconsin and adopt red-flag laws to ensure guns stay out of the hands of people who should not have them.
- Addressing Staffing Shortages: In February 2022, Gov. Evers signed into law new contracts for state troopers, which would increase their pay by an average of 4.3%. In February 2020, Gov. Evers signed bipartisan legislation that would increase the pay for 370 Wisconsin State Troopers by nearly 10 percent. And in the spring of 2019, Gov. Evers allocated tens of millions of dollars to give temporary wage increases to correctional officers, which eased staffing shortages at five WI state prisons.
- Expanding Emergency Services: For more than a decade, local communities have been asked to do more with less as state aid goes down, while costs go up. This has forced some rural communities to go without ambulance services and rely on neighboring providers. That’s why Gov. Evers invested $30 million to support more than 600 emergency medical service providers across the state and increased access to emergency care. $20 million of this investment will be directed toward rural communities, because no one should have to wonder if help will come when they call for an ambulance.
The previous administration was largely responsible for making deep cuts to law enforcement which still hamstring local governments from getting a handle on public safety today. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch’s administration slashed shared revenue to localities, which is a crucial funding stream for various programs, including police departments, by $76 million in 2011 alone — the largest cut in at least a decade. Then she made the situation worse by cutting off the lifelines from localities that might have allowed them to make up the difference.
Cutting shared revenue is not the only move that defunded public safety in Wisconsin under the Walker-Kleefisch administration, they also:
- Proposed abolishing the Parole Commission in 2017 despite having nearly 3,000 inmates on “parole eligible” sentences in Wisconsin. Their cuts would have shrunk the agency to one employee. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/20/17]
- Cut grants from its Sexual Assault Victim Services program by 42.5 percent in 2011.
- Lost track of nearly 3,000 people convicted of sexual crimes. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/27/18]
- Had only 18 Department Of Corrections agents assigned to keep more than 25,000 sex offenders in compliance. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/27/18]