Public defenders and district attorneys will be getting more funding in the upcoming state budget.
Democrat State representative Evan Goyke says the current public defender rates are so low that most attorneys can’t afford to handle them.
“There are counties, especially in northern Wisconsin that call dozens, dozens, dozens, hundreds of lawyers before they can find somebody willing to take on that criminal case.”
Republicans on the joint finance committee approved that funding on Tuesday. The Republican version of the plan will increase hourly rates for defenders to 70 dollars an hour, but does not tie that increase to the rate of inflation like Democrats wanted.
The move will also add 34 new staff members and assistant district attorneys across the state. Goyke says better funding for both the public defenders and prosecutors will help defendants and victims get their cases through the courts.
“Too often they’re just sitting there, waiting for the show to start, waiting for somebody to be their voice, so figure out what’s going to happen.”
Republican state representative Amy Loudenbeck calls it a compromise.
“I understand that there’s a couple small discrepancies, but I think in the end we’re trying to make up for some things that we haven’t been able to do for a long long time.”
Joint Finance will be taking Thursday off, and will meet again next week Tuesday to continue working on the budget.