Wisconsin Republicans to order audit of licensing backlog

Republican lawmakers are poised to order an audit of a Wisconsin agency that has taken weeks to issue professional licenses, causing lengthy delays for thousands of workers across the state, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The Department of Safety and Professional Services oversees licensing for hundreds of occupations including doctors, nurses, construction and trade workers, accountants, and tattoo artists. It reported an average wait time of 45 days for professional licenses last August, down from nearly 80 days in 2021.

The Republican-controlled Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee was scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider a proposed audit of the department’s license processing.

Ahead of the meeting, Democrats sent a letter to the committee’s Republican co-chairs saying the proposed audit would only further burden the staff responsible for issuing licenses.

Republican lawmakers have rejected Evers’ requests to fund staff positions to address delays. The department is funded almost entirely by fees it collects from licensing and inspections, but it is unable to use its budget surplus of more than $47 million to hire more staff without legislative approval.