Lawmakers want to ditch criminal justice cost estimates

For nearly a decade, the state’s Legislative Research Council (LRC) has produced prison-jail cost estimates for bills that would impact the inmate population.

This session, lawmakers will be asked to repeal the law that requires them.

At least one of the law’s initial backers says that’s a bad idea for taxpayers.

House Bill 1003, the third bill on the House of Representatives docket for the 2023 session, was filed on behalf of the Legislature’s Executive Board. The bill includes an emergency clause, which means it would take effect immediately, rather than on the typical post-session enactment date of July 1. 

The bill comes on the heels of a report by the LRC that says it lacks the data sources and time it needs to produce reliable cost estimates, and that some of its previous estimates have proven wildly inaccurate. 

“You never get any good information out of them. If you’re not getting anything out of them and it’s taking staff time, it just slows up the work,” said House Speaker Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown, the prime sponsor of House Bill 1003. “And it creates a ton of work for the LRC.”