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The Latest: Prisons chief expects more money for guards

in News
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on state Senate confirmation hearings for Wisconsin Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin Carr and Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson (all times local):

10:45 a.m.

Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin Carr says new Gov. Tony Evers will try to bump up prison guards’ salaries in his executive budget.

Carr told the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday that the prison system is grappling with a 16 percent vacancy rates among guards and sergeants.

He said his staff researched guard salaries in Wisconsin’s neighboring states and found Illinois starts them at $26 an hour. He believes Wisconsin should pay its starting guards $22.

He says Evers plans to address the pay discrepancy in what he called “a very significant way.” He did not elaborate and no one on the committee pressed him for more details.

Evers is set to release his budget on Feb. 28.

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10:30 a.m.

Department of Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin Carr is trying to persuade a legislative committee to recommend the state Senate confirm him.

Carr appeared before the Senate judiciary committee Wednesday to answer questions about his philosophy and approach. The committee will vote in the coming days on whether to recommend the Senate confirm him.

Carr tried to head off questions about the state’s troubled youth prison in his opening statement. Republicans passed a bill last year that requires Corrections to close the facility by 2021. But new Gov. Tony Evers says it could take two more years beyond that.

Carr told the committee the prison needs to close as soon as possible but lawmakers need to understand it will take time to build new county facilities to house the inmates.

But he stressed he wants to close the prison as soon as those new facilities are ready.

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8:05 a.m.

Republican legislators are set to question two key members of Gov. Tony Evers’ Cabinet as they weigh confirmation votes.

Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson will face the Senate’s transportation committee Wednesday. Republicans have been leery of Thompson’s background as a lobbyist for the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, which has advocated for raising taxes and fees to rebuild Wisconsin roads. Senate Republicans have resisted the idea of raising taxes or fees for road work.

Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin Carr will appear before the Senate judiciary committee. He’ll have to defend Evers’ plans to cut the inmate population in half and delay closure of the state’s troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile prison until as late as 2023, two years longer than planned.

The full Senate must vote to approve Evers’ Cabinet secretaries.

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