KOHL PRESSES ATTORNEY GENERAL TO RESTORE CRIME PREVENTION FUNDING IN UPCOMING FEDERAL BUDGET
AG Mukasey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today urged Attorney General Michael Mukasey to restore funding for state and local law enforcement programs when the Administration submits its FY09 budget proposal to Congress next week. Attorney General Mukasey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Kohl serves, as part of a Department of Justice oversight hearing. Kohl has been a leading proponent of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program for law enforcement and juvenile crime prevention programs and has fought the drastic cuts in funding championed by the Administration. The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program has been targeted for elimination in every budget proposed by President Bush. As a result, funding for the Byrne Program was reduced by 67% in the FY08 federal budget. In 2001, Wisconsin received more than $9 million in Byrne funding. Due to the cuts imposed by the President, Wisconsin will receive only about $1.6 million this year.
"Many of us are concerned about the Administration's abandonment of our state and local law enforcement officials. These cuts have a real impact on our communities' ability to fight crime. We're talking about losing prosecutors, and shutting down drug task forces and prevention and treatment programs around the state," Kohl told the Attorney General.
Kohl said that as a result of the funding cuts, "the Milwaukee's District Attorney is now talking about having to reduce his staff by as much as 10 or 15 percent. That means fewer assistant DAs prosecuting drug, domestic violence, and gang cases. Drug task forces around the state, which this funding has made possible, are talking about closing their doors. Victim and witness services programs are going to have to be closed. Community prevention and intervention programs will have to cut back or end their programs. These cuts are serious, and they fundamentally undermine our state and local criminal justice systems."
In response, Attorney General Mukasey said that the President's budget proposal, which will be sent to Capitol Hill on Monday, will include $200 million for a targeted crime prevention grant program of which the City of Milwaukee may be a beneficiary. While Kohl would welcome additional grant program funding for Milwaukee, he is concerned that the Administration will zero out funding for the other successful law enforcement programs in return. If past years are any indication, the President's $200 million request would be in lieu of well over $1 billion that was made available to state and local law enforcement in Fiscal Year 2007, which has funded programs in Milwaukee and all across the state of Wisconsin. The program referenced by the Attorney General today would provide far less funding to state and local law enforcement, its distribution would be left solely to the Administration's discretion and it could leave state and local law enforcement efforts elsewhere in Wisconsin with nothing.