Only days after the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance released new statistics showing that assaults on law enforcement officers have increased by 224% in the last five years, the Republican-controlled budget committee moved on Thursday and early Friday to provide reduced benefits to newly hired police officers and to allow for deep spending cuts in law enforcement services. WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer decried the effort, arguing that the changes will hurt public safety.
“Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers have done an outstanding job keeping us safe, but it’s clear that they are doing it at greater risk to their personal safety,” said Palmer. “These changes will likely result in fewer police services and more attacks on police personnel. This plan is foolish, reckless, and offensive.”
Specifically, the budget committee’s changes would eliminate a law that requires local governments to prioritize its spending on police and fire services and would require newly hired officers to pay a different pension and health insurance contribution than other officers.
“At a time when officers are being assaulted at an alarming rate, the Republicans’ budget changes will mean that there will be less money for things like training, equipment, and additional staff,” said Palmer. “Add to the mix that new officers will be receive less pay and benefits, and it’s reasonable to conclude that law enforcement and public safety will suffer.”
Other changes made by the Joint Committee on Finance included:
- The Act 10 exemption for police and fire was extended to all police and fire, whether represented or not.
- It appears that the ability to bargain over the ability to arbitrate discipline will be repealed.
- All new police and fire hires will be required to pay the pension and health insurance contributions.
- The maintenance of effort law for emergency services spending will be repealed.
- The $96 million cut to shared revenue was reduced by $20 million, but the aid will be distributed in a manner to benefit wealthier communities.
- The “greatest weight” factor of local economic conditions has been reinstated.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.