Gretchen Schuldt

DAs Seek 26% State Budget Increase

District Attorneys want more staff and 10% raise for eligible employees.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Sep 29th, 2020 11:54 am
Milwaukee County Courthouse

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

District attorneys are seeking a 26 percent, $28.9 million budget boost for the 2021-2023 biennium, according to state budget documents.

Most of that money would go to new positions and to fund 10 percent pay raises for qualified staff positions. The raises, with fringe benefits, would cost $3.5 million in the first year of the two-year budget and $7.4 million in the second year, according to the DA’s budget request.

“By statute, District Attorneys are authorized to award eligible employees up to 10% of their current salary,” the document says. “This funding level would be sufficient to authorize 10% wage increase for all eligible employees.”

The request does not say how many employees would be affected or the average amount of the raises.

More than 20 counties are seeking additional staff, a combined total of 57.35 additional prosecutor positions at a cost of $7.6 million over two years. Those counties, and the number of positions they are requesting, include:

  • Adams – 1
  • Brown – 6
  • Calumet – 0.7
  • Columbia – 1
  • Dane – 11
  • Dodge – 1
  • Eau Claire – 2
  • Fond du Lac – 3
  • Grant – 1
  • Green – 0.4
  • Lafayette – 0.5
  • Manitowoc – 1
  • Marathon – 6
  • Monroe – 2
  • Oconto – 1
  • Outagamie – 6
  • ​Ozaukee – 0.1
  • Sauk – 1.25
  • Sheboygan – 1.5
  • Vilas – 0.5
  • Walworth – 3
  • Waukesha – 7.4

Several counties are requesting additional prosecutors or conversion of grant-funded positions to state-paid posts. Granting all the requests would cost $512,000 each year.

Milwaukee County, for example is seeking to move seven prosecutors from grant funding to state funding. They include:

  • Two positions now funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The prosecutors work to identify low- or medium-risk nonviolent offenders who can benefit from community-based programming.
  • Two positions now funded by a federal Byrne JAG Local grant funding that supports community prosecutors and a domestic violence prosecutor. The feds are likely to reduce grant funding.
  • Two positions now funded by a federal Violence Against Women Act grant.
  • One post funded by a North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Office of National Drug Control Policy grant. “HIDTA ADAs provide legal assistance and advice in support of investigations into large scale drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), violent street gangs and crews, and firearm offenders,” the request said.

The Fond du Lac County District Attorney’s Office wants the state to pay for a prosecutor who specializes in domestic violence and sexual assault, and the Sauk County DA’s office is seeking funding for a position now funded through the federal Sexual Assault Justice Initiative.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

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