State Occupational Licensing Agency Seeks more Funding and Staff

Governor Tony Evers and the Department of Safety and Professional Services, or DSPS, are asking the state’s Republican-controlled finance committee for more staff and funding as they say the agency has reduced the amount of time to process licenses.

The Evers administration unveiled a new licensing dashboard on Thursday that shows the agency is reviewing applications within three to five days, meaning applicants who meet all requirements can receive licenses in less than a week on average. The processing time for applications is down from 38 days earlier this year and a high of about 80 days in 2021 as the agency faced a backlog of licenses for nurses and other professionals.

DSPS oversees 245 types of licenses for professions including nurses, therapists and plumbers. The agency issues more than 70,000 new credentials and 400,000 license renewals each biennium, according to the Department of Administration. Data from the agency’s dashboard shows it has issued 38,845 licenses so far this year compared to 30,200 licenses issued in all of 2018.

The agency is using federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund 21 contracted staff at its call center, but the funding is set to run out at the end of next year. The governor proposed to increase funding for the agency under the current two-year budget by nearly 24 percent or around $14.7 million and add nearly 80 positions. Republicans scaled back that request to 17.75 positions, including seven full-time positions to support licensing.