I came across an Informational Bulletin from the Director of State Courts to Municipal Court Judges and Municipal Court Clerks dated July 1, 2013, which states:
The new budget bill, 2013 Act 20, has increased the driver improvement surcharge from $365 to $435 for offenses committed on or after July 2, 2013. See Wis. Stat. § 346.655. For the rest of 2013, any surcharges received will continue to be distributed 40% to the state and 60% to the county.
On January 1, 2014, the distribution of the driver improvement surcharge will change. For surcharges received during the month of January and forward, the distribution will become 49.7% to the state and 50.3% to the county. The surcharge will continue to be reported on line 5 of the municipal court monthly financial report.
Just like that, the surcharge is increased by $70 while the distribution to counties is reduced by 9.7 percent and the distribution to the state is increased 9.7 percent. That is the tricky thing about the budget bill. It is so big–603 pages–that politicians can get away with putting all sorts of things in it without any fanfare.
Where was WCHSA (Wisconsin County Human Services Association) when this happened? Were they even informed? Representatives of WCHSA complained when the distribution was a straight 60-40, arguing that counties should get 80 percent. How on earth will counties be able to support human services with this additional cut?
An increase in the driver improvement surcharge will mean more money for the Tavern League’s Safe Ride Program, which also receives federal grant dollars from the Bureau of Transportation Safety. Both the Bureau and the TLW will say this additional money is a good thing because we want drunk people to take alternative transportation, right?
According to LRB-0515/P1, this provision of the budget bill also transfers the funding for the Chemical Test Section of the State Patrol from a portion of the driver improvement surcharge to the transportation fund. In 2010, the Chemical Test Section’s portion was approximately $1.25 million. It appears the State Laboratory of Hygiene will be getting monetary assistance from the general fund of “$136,400 in the first fiscal year of the fiscal biennium in which this subsection takes effect and $136,400 in the second fiscal year of the fiscal biennium in which this subsection takes effect.” Section 9248, 2013 Wis Act 20, p. 592. This will be in addition to the over $1 million they receive from the driver improvement surcharge.
If I understand this correctly, more money will be allotted for the Safe Ride Program, for blood testing at the State Lab or Hygiene, and for the state general fund. Less money will be going to counties that are responsible for providing AODA services to convicted OWI offenders.
Amazing what can get done in a budget bill.