Wisconsin prosecutors want a new system for determining pay increases.
Assistant District Attorneys in Wisconsin make a starting salary of about $47,000. However, Association of State Prosecutors President Catherine White says many of them begin work with student loan debt, commonly above $100,000. She says that forces some to take second jobs, or leave the profession when they can't make ends meet. New prosecutors fill those positions, but White says the cycle just continues.
Milwaukee County Assistant DA Jeff Griepp says inadequate pay has resulted in a "brain drain" of prosecutors. He says Wisconsin has lost 72-percent of its experienced prosecutors since 2001.
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard says many offices are also running with a shortage of staff, because there's not enough funding for the number of prosecutors they need to handle case loads. He expects to lose one position at the end of this year when a federal grant ends, and he says many more counties could see even more prosecutors laid off.
Blanchard says a shortage of prosecutors could result in a declining standard of justice.
The Association says wages remain inadequate because recent labor agreements have only provided a five-percent pay increase every two years. They want to reinstate a merit based pay system, which was in effect until 2001. The group claims the state has been re-negotiating the contract in "bad faith" and has filed a complaint.