The state Department of Administration announced on Friday its plan for cutting $123 million from state government by July, a blueprint that stretches across all agencies and seems to hit programs like sex offender management, criminal history searches and fingerprint identification and children's health insurance.
The plan calls for cutting $174.3 million by 2013, with the vast majority coming in the current fiscal year, which began in June. Hardest hit is the University of Wisconsin System at $46.1 million, followed by the Department of Health Services at $18.5 million and the Department of Corrections at $9.4 million.
The cuts were part of the state budget signed in June by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but the details of the cuts, known as lapses, were left to the agencies.
The cuts go into effect Jan. 18 unless someone on the Legislature's budget committee objects. One of the Democrats serving on the Republican-led committee will likely call for a full meeting, where the plan would likely be approved.
"Each agency has made tough decisions, and I thank them for their hard work to meet their lapse allocation requirement," Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said. "These lapses present challenges and opportunities for every agency. Under Gov. Walker's leadership, we took on those challenges to lay the groundwork for a sound fiscal future for our state."
The governor's office released the plan on Friday afternoon, two days before Christmas, when many agency experts were not available for comment. But a scan of the 39-page document showed:
• The Department of Justice is dealing with a $2.46 million cut by, in part, cutting $1.36 million from criminal history searches and fingerprint identification. The agency earns revenue by performing such searches for businesses.
• The Department of Corrections is dealing with a $9.46 million hit by cutting $3.8 million in operational cuts such as fuel and utilities, $3.9 million in youth aids and $846,400 in sex offender management.
Dennis Schuh, executive assistant to the Corrections secretary, said the cut to youth aids amounts to a little more than 4 percent of the program, which sends money back to the counties for the juvenile corrections system. The cut to the sex offender program sends back to the state the income the department receives from sex offenders, Schuh said.
• The Department of Children and Families is dealing with its $8.3 million cut by slashing "income augmentation funds" by $8.1 million. Department officials did not return calls Friday.
• The Department of Health Services is sending back to the state $18.6 million it received from the federal government as part of the Children's Health Insurance Program. The money is an unbudgeted bonus awarded to states that have simplified enrollment and renewal for Medicaid and CHIP and also have increased Medicaid enrollment of children, said DHS spokeswoman Beth Kaplan.
The governor protected several agencies and programs from additional cuts, including higher financial aid and other state operations.
By far, the hardest hit was the UW System, which was directed in October to find $46.1 million in cuts this year and another $19.7 million in 2012-13.
UW System President Kevin Reilly has called UW's cuts "highly disproportionate," noting that the system gets 7 percent of state funding but is taking 38 percent of the cuts.
Huebsch has denied that, saying UW's cuts are proportionate when you consider that certain funds, such as school aids and medical assistance, are exempt from cuts.
Reilly this month wrote a letter to Brian Hayes, state budget director, saying the cuts could result in fewer instructors and course offerings.
On Friday, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, criticized Walker over the cuts.
"This latest draconian cut targeting our universities explains why Wisconsin is one of the worst states for job losses since the governor passed his economic plan in the budget," he said.
— State Journal reporter David Wahlberg contributed to this report.