Evers, Will You Support Our Police?
On August 6, Governor Evers Vetoed Senate Bill 119 , also known as the “Fund the Police” Bill.1 This bill came as a response to the calls by the Left to defund the police.
Bill Explanation: Senate Bill 119 would, dollar for dollar, decrease State financial aid to local governments that decrease their law enforcement, fire department, or emergency medical budgets.2 Also, financial aid would decrease to local governments that reduce their number of police and first responders, even if their budgets remain the same.3 This bill would send a strong message to local governments: Don’t defund your police and first responders.
Senate Bill 119 included a number of exceptions that would allow for normal decreases in police department budgets. Significantly, the bill would not reduce financial aid to local governments so long as they do not decrease their number of police personnel, even if their police budget decreases.4
Support for the Bill: Senator Wanggaard, the bill’s author, testified to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety:
“Shared Revenue [State financial aid] is designed to help municipalities fund essential services in their budgets. If a community decides that it needs less of the most essential service, it only makes sense that they also need less Shared Revenue. That’s what this bill does. There are other communities that would gladly accept those funds to keep their citizens safer.”5
After Governor Evers vetoed Senate Bill 119, Senator Wanggaard responded in frustration,
“There are cities where it takes over 36 minutes to respond to a 911 call. And Evers is ok with cities cutting these vital services more? Does he want a 45 minute response time? There are areas of the state with virtually no EMS service. All across the country, cities that cut their police departments are seeing skyrocketing crime. And rather than connect the dots, rather than following the science, he listens to the looney left and says ‘Ya, let’s cut the police and fire budgets more. Another government program will make our children and grandchildren all safer.'”6
Opposition to the Bill: The Milwaukee Democratic Socialists of America testified in opposition to the bill by saying that “Senate Bill 119 . . . would render any popular action to counteract the structural racism upheld by policing and mass-incarceration essentially impossible.”7
After Senate Bill 119 passed both the Senate and the Assembly, Governor Evers vetoed it out of a stated refusal to “micromanage local decision making,” reasoning that local governments should be able to make the decision whether or not to reduce their law enforcement budgets.8
After a year of rising crime and outrageous attacks on police, Senate Bill 119 presented Governor Evers with a question: Will you support our police? Evers’ answer was clear. By refusing to place any financial penalty on local governments looking to defund our police, Evers refused to stand behind those men and women who sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe.
2, 3, 4 https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/related/enrolled/sb119