May 28 – JFC Takes Up DNR, UW System, District Attorneys/Public Defenders

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) rejoined the committee on May 28 after a medical absence over the past few weeks. With the full committee present again, JFC took up the district attorneys and public defenders, the University of Wisconsin System, and the Department of Natural Resources.

Under District Attorneys and Public Defenders, Gov. Tony Evers and Democrats supported:

  • Increasing the hourly rate for public defenders and indexing that to the rate of inflation.
  • 2 percent salary increase for assistant district attorneys, deputy district attorneys, public defenders, and assistant attorney generals.
  • Adds 34 assistant district attorney positions.

The Republican omnibus motion adopted mostly the same provisions. However, Republicans opted to delete the public defender hourly rate indexing and fund slightly fewer district attorney positions with GPR. The motion passed 12-4 along party lines.

Under the University of Wisconsin System, JFC voted 12-4 to approve:

  • $22.5 million in each year of the biennium as supplemental appropriations. JFC would have to approve a UW System plan to use these funds for capacity building.
  • Continuation of the resident undergraduate tuition freeze. The committee declined to add $50 million to the UW System to pay for the tuition freeze.
  • A total $265 million increase over the previous biennium’s base funding.

JFC then voted to scale back several of Gov. Evers’s proposals for DNR. Under Motion 105 (passed 12-4), the committee rejected Gov. Evers’s proposed Bureau of Natural Resources Science. However, the committee did approve two positions for PFAS and other emerging contaminants research. The committee also approved the governor’s recommendation for $150,000 GPR to develop a model to identify and prioritize sites with likely PFAS contamination and $50,000 to conduct a survey on emergency response use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam. However, the committee chose to fund the programs from DNR’s environmental management account instead of with GPR.

Additionally, the committee declined to take up Gov. Evers’s proposal increase CAFO permit fees and add CAFO regulatory staff.