MADISON, WI… Gov. Evers vetoed a number of public safety bills authored by Sen. André Jacque (R- De Pere) on Friday afternoon, including one to release $1 million in federal pandemic funding to train more officers…after releasing $1 million in federal pandemic funding to train more officers. While the introduction of the vetoed bills successfully pressured the Governor to finally authorize some ARPA funding for law enforcement as so many other states had done, many other opportunities to invest in public safety fell by the wayside.
Sen. Jacque noted the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau had earlier confirmed that, according to their tracking of the Evers administration’s uses of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, no funding had been directly allocated to law enforcement before March 15, 2022 – something he had repeatedly referred to since the first of the vetoed bills was introduced last year.
In a brazen display of political gamesmanship, rather than signing bi-partisan legislation, Gov. Evers simply announced he would be sending $1 million “to the Wisconsin Technical College System in an effort to support part-time police academy programs in Wisconsin” – just like the bill he then vetoed, Assembly Bill 836, co-authored by Sen. Jacque with Rep. Jesse James.
Sen. Jacque said the Governor vetoed several other initiatives in his Public Safety Package that received bipartisan votes and co-sponsorship, as well as backing from a broad coalition of law enforcement groups throughout Wisconsin. Those investments would also have been funded with ARPA dollars, which as President Biden noted in his State of the Union Address last month, should be used in part to enhance public safety:
Assembly Bill 777, co-authored with Rep. Rachael Cabral-Guevara, would add $10 million for more communities to receive funding under the Law Enforcement Grant Program, distributed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Currently, just 10 municipalities across the state share about $2 million in grant funding.
Assembly Bill 831, co-authored with Rep. Donna Rozar, would dedicate $1 million of ARPA funds to a marketing campaign to recruit new officers within Wisconsin and attract officers from communities outside the state that have sought to defund their police.
Assembly Bill 832, co-authored with Rep. Calvin Callahan, would use ARPA funds to reimburse the cost of training police academy recruits. It would also use those funds to double reimbursement expenses to local governments for recertification costs, from $160 per officer to $320. While recertification costs vary by department, expenses can exceed $600 per officer.