Gov. Tony Evers announced that his first proposal for the biennial budget plan will include a nonpartisan redistricting proposal and juvenile justice reform.
The redistricting proposal would transfer the responsibility over congressional map-drawing from politicians to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau. The next maps will be drawn in 2021 following the decennial census.
In a press release announcing the proposal, Evers’ office cited Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting maps, which had been challenged for “unconstitutional” partisan gerrymandering.
“The people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” Evers wrote in a statement. “By creating a nonpartisan redistricting commission in Wisconsin, we’re making sure that when we’re redrawing district maps in 2021, we’re putting people before politics.”
To limit gerrymandering, the LRB would not be able to use voting patterns, party information, incumbent residence information or demographic information when drawing district maps except where required by law.
The proposal asked to appropriate $10,000 from the biennial budget for the LRB to redraw the map.
Evers also proposed juvenile justice reform in the budget plan.
One reform would raise the age for charging juveniles as adults from 17 to 18, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Currently, Wisconsin is one of six states where 17-year-olds are tried in the adult justice system.
Another reform would put nearly $200 million more into new juvenile correctional facilities and delay the closure of Lincoln Hills School for Boys, a juvenile prison campus, until every youth was transferred to a new facility. Lincoln Hills has been the subject of multiple lawsuits and investigations.
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Evers proposed $115 million to build three new facilities to accommodate juvenile offenders, $59 million to construct a 50-bed addition at Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center and $100 million on county-run facilities.
“I’ve said all along that criminal justice reform is an area where Republicans and Democrats should be able to work together,” Evers wrote in a statement. “That starts with our juvenile justice system and making sure that our kids are safe and have a chance to be rehabilitated so they can get back into our communities and be successful.”