State Budget Passed

Wisconsin State Budget  - Passed July 1, 2009

The State biennial budget was passed on time (for the first time in decades).  The state budget addressed several issues that were important to SOPHIA and WISDOM. 

The budget includes In-state tuition rates for the children of undocumented workers who have lived here most of their lives, and who have graduated from Wisconsin high schools and who otherwise qualify to attend state universities or technical colleges.  This is something we have advocated for a long, long time. 

SOPHIA also advocated and worked for undocumented workers (and temporary residents) to get Drivers Certificates.  While this passed the Assembly, it was no longer included when the budget went through the Senate, and was not included in the final budget.

The “Early Release” provision, supported by SOPHIA and WISDOM, stayed in the budget.  This provision allows for some state prisoners to be released earlier than had been planned.  An inmate would need to be determined to be a ‘low risk’ person – that is, someone who is very unlikely to commit any sort of violent act upon release; the inmate would need to have followed the rules while incarcerated and to have participated in mandated rehabilitation activities.

SOPHIA and WISDOM supported “Early Release” for a variety of reasons:

  • It is a way to relieve some of the serious overcrowding in our prison without endangering the community’
  • It counterbalances some of the excesses of “Truth in Sentencing”, which has resulted in some inordinately long sentences;
  • It helps to ensure that those being released (who would be released eventually, no matter what) have a better chance to succeed “on the outside” and to avoid going back to prison.

SOPHIA and WISDOM also supported increased funding for Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD). Within the budget, the funding was basically maintained.

Thanks to all the SOPHIA members who spoke with, or emailed, their legislators and the Joint Finance Committee throughout this budget process.   WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!