Senate Assistant Majority Leader Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, said she would be seeking an audit of the Department of Corrections as part of a package of crime “victim-prevention” bills she is co-authoring with Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, and Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.
Vukmir appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
Vukmir said the lawmakers want the Legislative Audit Bureau to do an audit on the DOC “as it relates to their practices and their policies surrounding correction supervision, specifically in Milwaukee County.”
Vukmir said violent crime — including homicide, sexual assault, robbery and carjackings — are up dramatically in Wisconsin, particularly in Milwaukee County.
She said the statistics “represent real people who have had their lives changed forever because they have a lost a loved one, they have suffered bodily harm, they have lost property.”
Vukmir said she, Sanfelippo and Wanggaard want to look at the victims of crime.
“We have an awful lot of focus on the actual perpetrators of the crime, but what about the victims?” she said.
Vukmir said one of their bills would increase the penalty for carjacking, making it similar to robbery “in an attempt to raise the seriousness of it.”
Vukmir said the three lawmakers are still fine-tuning the bills, and they will be released in the coming days.
Gousha also asked her about the LAB audit of the Department of Transportation, which found worsening roads and inaccurately projected highway project costs.
“What it says to me is that we shouldn’t even be thinking about raising taxes and revenues and fees until we take a look inside the DOT and find those cost savings, because it appears as though there have been a lot of problems there,” she said.
Also on the program, Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, called on Republicans to have a “fair, just and open process” on redistricting and allow for public input.
A panel of three federal judges on Friday ordered lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker to draw up and approve new Assembly district maps by Nov. 1. Last fall, the judges ruled the current maps were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
Johnson said the ruling confirmed for Democrats “what we already know, that they way those maps were drawn is unfair.”
“I’m excited that has been recognized. I wish I could be more excited by being told that the Republicans don’t have to redraw the districts,” she said.
“That’s another concern for us. They have from now until November to decide how that will be done. So 2018, things should be different,” she said.
Johnson also criticized Walker’s new plan for welfare reform, which would require parents in families on food assistance to work at least 80 hours a month, or lose their share of the benefits.
“It’s morally unjust because there is no way to guarantee that the cuts that are made to the parent will not affect the children,” she said.
“There’s no way to segregate those cuts just specific for the parent. So that’s ultimately going to be cuts to the family,” Johnson said, adding that the penalties, which include up to a six-month period of being kicked off benefits, are “exceptionally harsh.”
The program also took a look at progress on the new basketball arena and entertainment complex in downtown Milwaukee. When it opens in 2018, the arena will be the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Bucks President Peter Feigin said the arena is more than 20 percent complete, and the adjacent parking structure and practice facility are also taking shape.
Feigin discussed the team’s efforts to connect jobs on the project with people who need work.