Attorney General Josh Kaul announced a $115 million dollar legislative package as part of plans for the Safer Wisconsin project on Monday. The legislative package will be funded by the state surplus, and will aim to reduce crime as well as support stronger communities.
“Across the country, we have seen a spike in shootings, in homicides and in substance use disorder cases resulting in overdose deaths. And we are here today to call on the legislature to take action to address those issues and to help work to make our communities safer,” said Kaul.
In a press release, Kaul outlined the four major points the legislative package will focus on: strengthening community trust and preventing crime, keeping guns out of the hands of those who have proven to be dangerous, addressing substance use disorder and mental health crises and holding offenders accountable.
The largest investment in the package is towards community-based crime prevention, with a proposed $20 million dollars directed towards community policing. Both victim support services and re-entry programs following incarceration will receive $10 million dollars each. Notably, the package also includes $25 million dollars in support of mental health and substance abuse initiatives.
The package has support of Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison), who said in a statement Monday that “everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities. I applaud Attorney General Kaul for his efforts to promote pragmatic and proven steps the legislature can take to make our communities safer.”
Wisconsin Republicans were quick to respond, with Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney, who will be running against Attorney General Kaul next year, calling the package “a recycled, liberal wish list of ideas which shows he isn’t serious about addressing the violent crime epidemic.” The package also includes universal background check and red flag proposals, which will also likely draw opposition from the Republican party, who have opposed similar legislation in the past.
Both the city and county of Milwaukee set new year-long records in 2020 for homicides, nonfatal shootings, motor vehicle deaths and overdoses. Both parties acknowledge the importance of addressing crime for their constituents, and as the Safer Wisconsin package enters debate in the Assembly and Senate, Republicans will likely answer with their own package by the end of the year.