December 12, 2007

Senator Taylor Votes $9.3 Million to Counties

MADISON – The Joint Finance Committee today unanimously approved more than $9 million in state aid to support county child support enforcement efforts and hold increase the reimbursement rate to county jails for holding violators of probation and parole.  The funding will help to offset increases in administrative costs and massive cuts in federal funding.

“County services are stretched thin, as is,” said Taylor. “We have an affirmative obligation at the state level to advocate on behalf of the counties and make sure that the vital services they provide—in areas like child support enforcement and the Sheriff’s Department—aren’t cut short by a lack of foresight.”

Due to massive cuts in federal funding, county child support enforcement agencies were especially strapped financially.  Under the federal Deficit Reduction Act, Wisconsin counties lost $25 million in child support subsidies—67% of their total budget for enforcement—from 2006 to 2008.  Milwaukee County, alone, stands to lose $8 million next year due to federal cuts.  Without the $8.25 million appropriated by the Joint Finance Committee this afternoon, Milwaukee County child support services would have been forced to lay off 26 employees immediately.

“Providing the counties with these funds just makes sense,” Taylor explained. “Not only do we ensure the continuation of invaluable services for Wisconsin’s families, but we preserve jobs, and, ultimately, save Wisconsinites money.  A lot of people don’t realize that every dollar spent on child support enforcement nets a $6 return in child support collections.  We had a moral and fiscal obligation to approve this funding.”

In addition to funding county child support services, the Joint Finance Committee also voted in favor of a motion to adequately reimburse counties for the maintenance of individuals in custody pending disposition of parole, extended supervision, or probation revocation proceedings.  At present, counties are reimbursed for probation and parole holds at a rate of $28.59 per day.  The new reimbursement rate will be $32 per day, an increase of $588,528 for counties, to accommodate increases in basic costs.  The $32 per day still pales in comparison to the $149 per day that it costs Milwaukee County to house individuals in its county jails.

“The taxpayers of Milwaukee County shouldn’t be made to foot the bill for essentially state functions,” Taylor stated. “This extra funding will help the county keep up with the skyrocketing cost of housing these men and women while, simultaneously, reducing the burden on local taxpayers.”