Governor Scott Walker’s call for lawmakers to act quickly on juvenile corrections reforms received a tepid response Tuesday from Republican leaders in the state Assembly.
The governor wants lawmakers to pass legislation before the session ends that would start the process of closing the state’s youth prison in Lincoln County and move offenders to smaller regional facilities. The request comes after Walker faced criticism from Democrats for initially saying he would delay action on the issue until the next state budget – after he faces reelection.
Asked by reporters about whether the Assembly would act on the issue before the session ends this spring, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said his members share the same goal as the governor, but added his chamber may look at other ways to get there. “There are other options out there besides just having…a model that was state run,” Vos said. “There are other possible innovations which would hopefully accomplish the same goals, perhaps even at a lower cost and with better outcomes.”
Assembly Republicans are working on a proposal that could shift more responsibility for juvenile corrections to the local level. No bill has been introduced yet.
Vos said he would like to see action on the issue this session, but there needs to be a plan first that has the support of both chambers. “If we’re able to do it by the end of the session, that would be our goal,” he said. “But I’m also not going to set that as a hard, fast deadline if we don’t have the right plan.”