Wisconsin license delays improve, but agency needs more help

Wisconsin Republicans questioned the efforts of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration to fix lengthy delays in issuing professional licenses, even as an agency head said Thursday that wait times had improved, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Dan Hereth, who took charge of the troubled Department of Safety and Professional Services in August, called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to grant his requests for more staff. Testifying before the Legislature’s budget committee, Hereth said processing times for license applications now average 38 days — half the nearly 80-day wait time reported in 2021.

The persistent delays have kept thousands of workers waiting weeks to receive professional licenses and concerned applicants have overwhelmed the agency’s call center.

The department is funded almost entirely by fees it collects from licensing and inspections but is unable to use its budget surplus of more than $47 million to hire more staff without the Legislature’s approval. Evers requested 20 new positions for the department in the 2019–21 budget and 12 positions in 2021–23 budget, but the Legislature approved only one new position each time.