GOP questions delays at Evers’ licensing agency

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican lawmakers are raising questions about why the state Department of Safety and Professional Services is taking weeks to issue licenses.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that the average wait time for professional licenses is currently 45 days. That’s down from almost 80 days in 2021, but Republicans are still criticizing Gov. Tony Evers for allowing such lengthy delays as the November elections approach.

They say the delays are an example of Evers’ failed leadership. Republican Sen. Alberta Darling says the backlog is similar to the Department of Workforce Development’s delays in getting unemployment benefits distributed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evers’ administration has countered that GOP legislators haven’t given the department enough money to run efficiently. Mike Tierney, the administration’s legislative liaison with the agency, says lawmakers have diverted money from DSPS to the state’s general fund, preventing the department from hiring more staff and updating outdated systems. He said six people are tasked with handling as many as 4,400 calls per week.

DSPS Secretary Dawn Crim, an Evers appointee who was confirmed by the state Senate, left the agency on Aug. 1 without explanation. Dan Hereth, the department’s assistant deputy secretary, has taken over.