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Prosecutors say Doyle's budget makes it hard to put criminals away
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River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Wisconsin's prosecutors say Gov. Jim Doyle is making it harder to put criminals away.

Ralph Uttke, head of the state District Attorneys Association, said the governor suggested a pay cut for prosecutors in the next state budget and he ignored the group's request to raise the alcohol tax to provide more money.

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According to Uttke, 70 percent of the DAs' cases are alcohol-related. And he said a hike in the alcohol tax would have offered new programs to help those offenders, and add 120 more prosecutors.

The alcohol tax hike was not part of the two-year budget Doyle proposed to the Legislature a week ago.

The governor's budget director said the pay cut was 1 percent. But the head of the DA's union cites a larger amount. Their group is the only one which has not agreed to a new contract with the state.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said low pay is causing the most skilled prosecutors to go elsewhere - and that leaves less-experienced attorneys to handle cases which keep getting more complex.

Chisholm said the pay difference is just $2,000 a year between a rookie prosecutor and one with eight years' experience. And he said federal grants are the main reason his staff has not shrunk over the past two decades.

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