New Law Enacted to Protect & Promote Law Enforcement Funding
Since the beginning of the year, the WPPA has been tirelessly lobbying state lawmakers to do more to protect and promote public safety services in Wisconsin. Specifically, as laid out in January’s issue of the Wisconsin Police Journal, we have been arguing that lawmakers need to step up and invest and prioritize public safety in the state budget. In support of that argument, we have pointed to troubling developments such as the statewide law enforcement staffing crisis and alarming increases in the number of violent crimes and assaults on officers in the line of duty.
Today, Gov. Tony Evers signed Assembly Bill 245, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 12, relating to shared revenue—one of the most significant sources of funding provided by the state to local governments. The byproduct of a compromise reached after some intense negotiations between the governor and Republicans leaders, the new law represents a generational increase in the state’s commitment to local communities as it provides a historic increase in support for those communities.
For many years, the amount of state funding that has been distributed to local governments across the state has been essentially frozen at $753 million per year. Beginning July 1, 2024, a full penny of sales tax will go into a segregated local government fund, resulting in an increase of $275 million, and future increases will be tied to state sales tax revenues.
The law provides that the new funds may be utilized for law enforcement, along with fire protection, emergency medical services, emergency response communication, public works, courts, and transportation. All communities will see at least a 20% increase over their current state aid (except Milwaukee, which will receive a 10% increase in funding and the authority to enact a local sales tax). Millions of dollars in new funding will also go into law enforcement training aids, as the law will double the annual reimbursement for local law enforcement training from $160 to $320.
Additionally, in order to demonstrate their commitment to public safety and avoid a 15% penalty to local aid, local governments will be required to certify to the state Department of Revenue annually that they are not cutting public safety services. For law enforcement, local governments will have to demonstrate that any one of the following factors has not decreased from the prior year:
- The number of sworn officers employed;
- The amount of property tax levy dollars spent on employment of sworn officers; or
- The percentage of property tax levy spent on employment of sworn officers
Counties, and those municipalities under 20,000 population or that receive law enforcement services from the Sheriff’s Department, will not be required to certify their law enforcement efforts under the new law.
For far too long, law enforcement agencies across the state have suffered from a fundamental lack of financial support from lawmakers—one that has hurt officer safety—as well as public safety. As the voice for Wisconsin’s law enforcement community, the WPPA has worked relentlessly to educate the public and inform our elected policymakers of the challenges facing you and your profession. Today’s enactment of this historic new local government funding law is a testament to our collective strength and of our dedication to you, your families, and your profession.
A full breakdown of additional funding communities will receive under this new law is available.