For Immediate Release: For More Information:
December 18, 2015 Sen. Lena Taylor, 608-266-5810
Sen. Jon Erpenbach, 608-266-6670
Rep. Chris Taylor, 608-266-5342
Rep. Gordon Hintz, 608-266-2254
Budget committee Democrats introduce Truth in Corrections Budget Act
MADISON – Today, all four Democrats on the state’s powerful Joint Committee on Finance circulated the Truth in Corrections Budgeting bill, which will require all bills that carry a criminal penalty to include a fiscal estimate prior to passage.
“Lock them up and throw away the key tough on crime approach isn’t working,” said Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee). “It’s time to get smart on crime and that means best practices based on proven data-driven strategies. It is irresponsible for lawmakers to vote on million dollar increases in criminal penalties without all the facts or any effort to require the information.”
When circulating the bill, authors noted neighboring Minnesota, which requires fiscal impact statements on their criminal penalty bills, incarcerates half as many people as Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin families must look at costs when they make financial decisions and so should the state government,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison). “Every other state agency does this and so should Corrections. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
The bill was released just days after Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) renewed his call for an audit of the Department of Corrections.
“Whenever there is an enhanced penalty passed through the Legislature we have a responsibility that we all understand what the costs will be,” said Erpenbach.
One of the lead authors of the bill, Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) represents a community very familiar with the Department of Corrections. The Oshkosh Correctional Institution is home to approximately 1,500 people.
“This is a straightforward bill that simply requires that legislators be informed and intentional about what changes to criminal penalties costs Wisconsin taxpayers,” said Hintz. “A fiscal estimate is fundamental information that is taken into consideration for every other bill, and it should be the same in this case as well.”
The budget committee members circulated the bill today for co-sponsors. The deadline to become a co-sponsor is January 5, 2016.