Wisconsin Democrats propose bills aimed at helping local governments fight crime

Wisconsin Democrats crime bills press conference

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Democratic legislators have come up with a package of bills they say will help local governments fight crime.

The seven bills the group unveiled Monday range from creating a neighborhood crime reduction grant program to target high crime areas to funding “evidence-based violence prevention initiatives,” Rep. Greta Neubauer’s office said in a news release.

Other bills in the package would help local jurisdictions create programs to monitor people who have been released from jail before trial and increase the state’s Shared Revenue Program — which is how the state pays local governments — by 2%. The group argued Republicans have reduced shared revenue payments to local governments, which has affected not just police and fire departments but also health departments and libraries.

Over the past decade, the group said, shared revenue payments have decreased by 9% while spending on public safety has increased by almost 17%.

“This gap is growing and it’s growing faster in recent years,” Rep. Evan Goyke, a Milwaukee Democrat, said during a news conference Monday morning.”So if my Republican legislative colleagues were serious about funding law enforcement in local units of government, they wouldn’t be directing the governor to spend COVID relief aid, they would be solving the problem.”

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Goyke said the proposals would cost about $100 million but that the state has more than $2.5 billion in surplus funds.