Wisconsin public defenders will be eligible for merit-based pay raises higher than the usual 10-percent under a bipartisan bill signed by the governor Monday. The higher pay comes at a time the statewide office has lost dozens of employees because of low wages. Seventy-eight staff members quit over the last 12 months. State Public Defender Kelli Thompson says the new law will make it easier for the office to compete as it tries to hire attorneys. The merit-based raises will be available for the upcoming fiscal year only.

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