Born Shares Thoughts On Governor’s DA, Public Defender Funding Proposal

(Beaver Dam) Governor Tony Evers is hoping to spend some of the state’s massive tax surplus on shoring up the justice system. The governor’s proposal would spend $36-million-dollars to pay prosecutors and public defenders more across the board.

Evers also wants to hire 50 more prosecutors and public defenders, and increase the pay for elected district attorneys. The proposal seeks to add nearly 817 new full-time positions, of which 368 would be paid for with state money. The governor’s proposed budget is now in the hands of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

State Representative Mark Born, who sits on that committee, says the state’s priority should not be creating more positions but rather filling the vacancies that already exist.

“Let’s focus on that starting wage…on the retention,” says Born. “I’m not saying that we won’t add any [positions]. I want to look at where they’re needed…I doubt we’ll add as many as [Evers’ is] suggesting cause I’m very confident we will not add eight-hundred-and-some new positions to state government. But we will add in areas that we have to add.”   

Born says he grows suspicious of agencies that say they need more positions to help address their struggles when they have large vacancy rates.

“If you can’t fill your current spots why would I give you more…let’s first figure out how we can fix that,” says Born. “And fix that by [either getting] those spots filled or if it’s a different agency then maybe technology could help. Can we do some upgrades to software and make this a less labor intensive job. Certainly, I am confident there will be investments in courts in this budget.”

Born says that means investments into public defenders, district attorneys, and the court houses as well judges and the judiciary itself. The Beaver Dam Republican adds that there are “weaknesses” that have been exposed.

No more notable than when former Dodge County DA Kurt Klomberg resigned amidst staffing challenges, and at the time said his office had zero attorney’s working full-time.