TUE PM Update: JFC debating UW budget, approves $38.4M boost for prosecutors, public defenders

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— The Joint Finance Committee late this afternoon was debating a GOP motion to add another two years to the freeze on tuition for in-state undergraduates at the UW System.

But the GOP motion would nix Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to backfill that lost tuition revenue with an additional $50.4 million in state aid.

Overall, the GOP motion would provide $69.7 million less in state aid that the $126.6 million the guv had proposed.

See more on the debate later in the Budget Blog:

— The Joint Finance Committee approved $38.4 million GPR to boost pay for prosecutors and public defenders while adding 26.5 positions in DA offices across the state.

The bulk of that money — $25.7 million — would increase the rate paid to private attorneys who act as public defenders. Meanwhile, $3.6 million of it would go to help counties cover the costs of attorneys appointed by circuit courts to represent the indigent.

The GOP motion was approved 12-4 along party lines.

The State Public Defenders Office has long sought an increase in the private bar rate of $40, which it pays to private attorneys to take the cases it can’t cover. The rate, now among the lowest in the country, would go to $70 starting Jan. 1, 2020.

That’s in line with what Gov. Tony Evers proposed. But Evers also had called for indexing that rate for inflation going forward; Republicans didn’t include that in their motion.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court has ordered counties to up their reimbursement rates to $100 an hour when the Public Defenders Office can’t find someone to take a case and circuit courts step in to appoint an attorney to take it on.

The GOP motion included money to help cover those costs, while the guv’s budget didn’t.

The GOP motion largely tracks the guv’s recommendation — with a technical modification — for the pay progression to provide a boost of 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021.

It also largely matches Evers’ proposal to add 34 prosecutor positions at DA’s offices funded through general purpose revenue. That includes converting 3.5 positions now paid for with program revenue to GPR. The guv also wanted to convert four positions in the Milwaukee County DA’s office from program revenue to GPR. Instead, those positions would continue to be funded with grants, though that money has been declining.

Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, noted Milwaukee County could return to the committee to seek additional money to cover the costs of the positions.

But Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said it was another example of “stick it to Milwaukee,” because the GOP motion would still convert program revenue-supported prosecutor positions in Fond du Lac and Marathon counties to GPR.

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, who co-authored the motion, said Dems and Republicans were largely in agreement except for a few small differences.

She also noted the private bar rate hadn’t changed since 1995, when it was reduced $10.

“At the end, we’re trying to make up for something that we haven’t been able to do for a long, long time,” she said.

State Public Defender Kelli Thompson applauded the decision and noted the current rate of $40 per hour “has had a crippling effect on our justice system.”

“I very much appreciate that the Committee members as well as the Governor and our partners in the criminal justice budget coalition support the effort to address this issue,” she said in a statement.

— Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, returned to the committee today for the first time since a fall in Washington, D.C., earlier this month on a fundraising trip.

As Darling started the hearing, fellow Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, interrupted her to say “We’ve definitely felt your absence” and members on both sides were praying for her recovery.

Darling responded, “You’re going to make me cry.” Darling added she believes the prayers were especially helpful.

— Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly did little to distance himself from prior writings in which he described affirmative action and slavery as morally and legally comparable when pressed on the matter by reporters this morning.

Kelly, who formally unveiled his candidacy for a full 10-year term on the state Supreme Court this morning, wrote in a 2014 book that while “affirmative action and slavery differ, obviously, in significant ways… Morally, and as a matter of law, they are the same.”

Quizzed by reporters on his writings, Kelly said it was “beyond my authority and beyond propriety” as both a sitting Supreme Court justice and as a candidate to comment on topics of public policy.

But while he would not further elaborate on his own beliefs, Kelly said he derived the notion from conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“He once wrote that there is a moral and constitutional equivalence between laws that subjugate races to slavery and those that distribute benefits based on a current notion of fairness,” Kelly said before noting Thomas is a black man and the grandson of sharecroppers.

Kelly’s comments came at a news conference shortly after announcing his candidacy during a radio hit on WISN-AM. Speaking with conservative host Jay Weber, Kelly said fellow conservative Brian Hagedorn’s win this spring for an open seat on the court had created an energy that hasn’t died down.

Hagedorn was considered a significant underdog until a surge of conservative enthusiasm helped carry him to a win in April. Kelly said Hagedorn’s win, which will push the conservative majority to 5-2, prompted people to reach out to him to offer help for next spring. But he didn’t offer specifics.

“People see that this can be done, and they’re energized and ready to go right now,” Kelly said.

At the news conference after those comments, Hagedorn appeared alongside Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley and retired Justice David Prosser in support of Kelly and touted him as “someone who has a record.”

“He’s not a blank slate. He’s not someone who’s just coming with words,” Hagedorn said. “He is someone who has put those principles into practice.”

Bradley, meanwhile, said she learned over the last three years serving alongside Kelly on the high court that he was a “staunch defender” of the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions and “the rights of the people that those documents protect.”

Former Gov. Scott Walker appointed Kelly to the bench in 2016 following the retirement of Prosser.

Kelly, who was in private practice before his appointment, was president of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative organization, and sat on the advisory panel for the Wisconsin Institutes for Law & Liberty.

He also spent a year as vice president and general counsel for the conservative Kern Family Foundation. He served as an adviser to Bradley during her 2016 bid and was an attorney for Prosser during his 2011 recount.

— Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky has formally entered the race, while Marquette University Law School Professor Ed Fallone has indicated he plans to run as well.

Karofsky welcomed Kelly to the race via tweet, writing “We will have a spirited and important conversation about our experience in the law and our view of the law.”

Fallone, meanwhile, said if “you remove his partisan activities,” Kelly’s legal career isn’t one that would normally merit an appointment to the state Supreme Court.

“I believe that merit and integrity — and not political connections — are what qualify a person for a seat on our state’s highest court, and I believe that the voters of Wisconsin agree with me,” Fallone said.

— Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet today sent an email announcing her endorsement of Karofsky.

Meanwhile, Tim Burns, the Middleton attorney who came in third in a three-way primary as Dallet went on to win an open seat on the bench, sent a fundraising appeal on behalf of Fallone.

Burns ran as an unabashed progressive in the 2018 primary, taking 17.9 percent. In formally announcing her campaign, Karofsky bemoaned ‘the judiciary being increasingly politicized and the rule of law being ignored for partisan political reasons.”

Fallone endorsed Burns in the 2018 race.

“I’m endorsing Ed Fallone’s campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court, because I believe he’s the right candidate to stand up for Wisconsin working families,” Burns’ fundraising appeal reads. “Ed is running against a right-wing Scott Walker appointee backed by powerful special interests with deep pockets, and he’ll need all of us to do our part so he can reach voters across Wisconsin.”

Karofsky endorsed Dallet in 2018.

Dallet wrote in the email Karofsky is “tough as nails.”

“Good judges stand up for the rule of law, independent courts, and our constitutional rights. In Jill’s career, she has stood up for our rights every day,” Dallet wrote. “As a judge, as a prosecutor, as the director of the state office for victim services, and as a community leader, Jill Karofsky has what it takes to make our system better.”

See the Dallet email:

See the Burns email:

— Meanwhile, former Gov. Jim Doyle and his wife Jessica are helping host a fundraiser for Karofsky June 6.

Donations range from a suggested contribution of $100 up to $1,000 to be a host.

See more:

— The state Senate still plans to move forward with a bill that would ban abortions on the basis of race, sex or disability despite the U.S. Supreme Court today declining to review a federal appeals court decision striking down a similar law in Indiana.

The Indiana law would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if a woman is choosing the procedure because of the fetus’ sex or race, or because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome or “any other disability.” That language tracks closely with Wisconsin’s AB 182, which passed the Assembly roughly two weeks ago.

But the U.S. Supreme Court today left in place a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down the Indiana law. In an unsigned opinion, the court said it intended to “follow our ordinary practice of denying petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional courts of appeals.”

The 7th Circuit is the only appeals court to consider the issue so far.

In its decision to strike down the Indiana law, a three-judge panel noted that it felt bound by the precedent set by the High Court’s decision in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which ruled that states may not prohibit abortions or place substantial obstacles in the way of women seeking them before fetal viability.

“These provisions are far greater than a substantial obstacle; they are absolute prohibitions on abortions prior to viability, which the Supreme Court has clearly held cannot be imposed by the state,” wrote 7th Circuit Judge William Bauer in the decision on Indiana’s abortion law.

A spokesman for Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told WisPolitics.com today that the majority leader was undeterred by the Supreme Court punting on the issue and still planned to bring the bill up.

The Senate plans to be on the floor June 5.

See the Supreme Court decision:

See the 7th Circuit decision:

See the Wisconsin bill:


June 13: WisPolitics.com luncheon: The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin

Transportation funding has become one of the key debating points in the two-year state budget making its way through the Legislature. Gov. Tony Evers proposed an 8-cent-a gallon increase in the gas tax plus while getting rid of the minimum markup on gasoline — something the administration said would more than wipe out the increase. Republicans have removed the minimum markup provision and left in the gas tax increase for now. Where will the debate lead and will it result in a long-term solution?

Hear details from some of the key players in the debate at a WisPolitics.com issues luncheon set for Thursday, June 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee’s Waukesha campus just off I-94.

Panelists for the discussion: Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

WisPolitics.com subscribers and members receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $20 per person, including lunch. Price for the general public is $25 per person, including lunch.

This event is sponsored by: Kapur & Associates, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training, ELEVEN25 at Pabst, Milwaukee Police Association, The Firm Consulting, Medical College of Wisconsin and Spectrum.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is an event partner.

For more information and registration, visit: https://wispolitics.com/2019/june-13-wispolitics-com-luncheon-the-future-of-transportation-funding-in-wisconsin/



LRB-3220/P1: Restoring requirements related to deer carcass tags that were eliminated under 2017 Wisconsin Act 59. By Sen. Wirch and Rep. Hesselbein.

LRB-2615 and LRB-2680: Creating a crime for threatening to use a dangerous weapon on school property to injure or kill a person. By Sen. Bewley and Rep. Doyle.

LRB 2512/1: Making changes to interior design registration. By Sens. Kapenga and Johnson and Reps. Horlacher and Stubbs.


SB 239: Limiting the authority of the state and political subdivisions to regulate certain wireless facilities and authorizing political subdivisions to impose setback requirements for certain mobile service support structures. Referred to Committee on Utilities and Housing.

SB 240: Elections administration, recall petitions, and recount procedures. Referred to Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues.

SB 241: Voter registration. Referred to Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues.

SB 242: Absentee voting, voting procedures, and providing a penalty. Referred to Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues.

Track bills for free:

Capital Times: Dan Kelly launches campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court

State Journal: Big dairy operations urge GOP to block fees for Tony Evers’ clean drinking water plan

AP: University tuition freeze, DNR scientists up for key vote

WPR: Funding For State’s Stewardship Program At Stake In Next Budget

Politico: Amid censorship fears, Trump campaign ‘checking out’ alternative social network

Politico: Amash accuses Barr of selling Trump’s ‘false narrative’

Reuters: Supreme Court avoids abortion question, upholds fetal burial measure

Reuters: Disaster aid bill worth $19.1 billion blocked again in House

Washington Post: Trump says he is not seeking ‘regime change’ in Iran


– 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.: Rep. Allen fundraiser.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections executive session on AB 168, relating to the requirement for stating name and address prior to voting; and AB 64, relating to aids to counties and municipalities for certain special election costs.

– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 10:05 a.m.: Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues executive session on SB 48, relating to allowing an elector to show his or her marked ballot; and SB 71, relating to aids to counties and municipalities for certain special election costs.

– 10:10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues joint public hearing on AB 203, relating to using an electronic voting machine to cast a vote with an in-person absentee ballot; LRB-3377/1, relating to elections administration, recall petitions and recount procedures; LRB-3378/1, relating to absentee voting and voting procedures; and LRB-3379/1, relating to voter registration.

– 10:30 a.m.: Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality public hearing. Janesville.

– 10:30 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy public hearing on AB 234, relating to limiting the authority of the state and political subdivisions to regulate certain wireless facilities and authorizing political subdivisions to impose setback requirements for certain mobile service support structures.

– 1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Utilities and Housing public hearing on SB 153, relating to submission of building permit applications for one-family and two-family dwellings; and SB 239, relating to limiting the authority of the state and political subdivisions to regulate certain wireless facilities and authorizing political subdivisions to impose setback requirements for certain mobile service support structures.

– 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters panel on financing higher education. Panelists include: Catherine Kodat, provost and dean of faculty at Lawrence University; John Achter, associate dean of students at UW-Stout; Keegan Kyle, investigative journalist; Sarah Weiss, assistant director at Upward Bound at Beloit College, and UW-Milwaukee graduate student Nikita Werner.

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