Report: Wisconsin police budgets were cut prior to protests

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FILE – In this Aug. 23, 2020 file photo, police in riot gear stand guard in Kenosha, Wis. According to police officials, two police officers who were on the scene when a white officer shot and partially paralyzed a Black man in Wisconsin, triggering several nights of violent protests, have returned to duty. The update announced Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, comes as Officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Jacob Blake seven times on Aug. 23, in Kenosha, remains on administrative leave while a police review board examines the case. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report shows that police departments across Wisconsin saw their budgets cut and number of sworn officers reduced before the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis and the national “defund police” debate.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum report released Tuesday says the data suggests that cutting police and fire department budgets is less about a deliberate attempt to defund them and more about confronting difficult fiscal realities.

The report comes after Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature that would have cut state aid to communities that reduce police budgets.

Gov. Evers said he vetoed the because he objected to the restrictions it put on Wisconsin local governments to set their budgets.

“I am vetoing this bill because I object to the onerous restrictions it imposes on the ability of Wisconsin local governments to set their budgets…Rather than help with the fiscal constraints that local governments are experiencing, this bill seeks to micromanage local decision-making. Local governments and local elected officials are well-positioned to make informed decisions about what is best for their communities and how to meet the needs of the people they serve and represent,” wrote Gov. Evers.

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