Attorney General Keith Ellison asked state lawmakers for $1.8 million on Thursday, saying it would help his agency hire more prosecutors and result in more criminal convictions in Minnesota.
Ellison, a first-term Democrat, said he has recommended more money for his office’s criminal division three years in a row but has had little luck in the split Statehouse.
He said the extra personnel might assist prosecute complicated criminal cases like murder, manslaughter, and human trafficking that county attorneys don’t have the bandwidth to handle while lawmakers negotiate public safety funds in the coming weeks.
“We want to do more so that we can be there for victims of violent crime in Minnesota,” Ellison told reporters at the Capitol. “We’re all set to go.” We will do so provided the Legislature grants us greater funding.”
The Attorney General’s Office now employs three criminal attorneys, and Ellison claims that the current personnel is inadequate to fulfill demand across the state.
When local prosecutors want assistance in bringing a criminal case, the criminal division serves as a backup. State law prohibits state prosecutors from intervening without the permission of the local lawyers.
According to Ellison, the $1.8 million increase will allow the division to recruit seven new prosecutors and two administrative assistants.
He explained, “It would put us in a situation where we wouldn’t have to triage and tell people no.”
The increased financing has been included in Minnesota House Democrats’ supplementary budget plans, but Senate Republicans have resisted it, claiming that Ellison’s office received a budget hike last year.
“I believe the attorney general has enough time and resources to pursue criminality currently,” Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said, referring to the office’s enforcement of COVID-19-related state rules.
Tony Palumbo, Anoka County Attorney, stated, “I am here in solidarity of my colleagues who are doing tremendous work throughout broader Minnesota.” “They are fighting the fights that we in the Metro must also fight, and I must also fight, but we have a lot of resources to do so.” When they have a huge case, they don’t.”