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Wisconsin's DAs want beer tax to pay for more prosecutors

Wisconsin's prosecutors say they could put more criminals away if adults would pay more for their beer and booze.

The District Attorneys' Association announced a resolution on Monday which calls for a "modest" increase in the state's beer and liquor taxes.

Last year, state auditors said Wisconsin had a major shortage of prosecutors statewide.

Recently, while trying to jump start contract negotiations, the group said assistant DAs were quitting because of pay freezes and the elimination of bonus pay for experience.

The association said it needs 121 more people to get back to proper staffing and it would cost $10 million to $15 million a year to pay those prosecutors.

The state liquor tax brought in $41 million in 2006, while the beer tax brought in $10 million. Legislators have treated the beer tax as a sacred cow for years.

However, more lawmakers are willing to consider an increase after two major newspaper series this year uncovered the high cost of drunken driving and the state's alcohol culture.

Gov. Jim Doyle has said he would be hesitant to raise taxes in the next budget, when the state must cover a $5.4 billion deficit.

But the DAs say higher "sin taxes" would be a responsible way to hire more prosecutors.