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GAB: Statewide Recall Election Could Cost $9 Million, Up to $20 Million

All 72 counties responded to a survey that helped the Government Accountability Board compile its numbers.

A recall election for Gov. Scott Walker would cost just more than $9 million without a primary and $17 million with a primary, according to numbers released Friday.

The Government Accountability Board reached those estimates after receiving information from the state's 72 counties. The work was done after Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) made a request for the information.

"The costs are significant," said Vos. "We asked for these figures, hoping that if people knew the cost, they would think twice."

After learning the recall elections in summer 2011 cost over $2 million, Vos wanted to know what a statewide recall would run. In a letter to the GAB back in October, Vos asked for an estimate, saying he wanted voters informed before petitions were circulated for Governor Scott Walker and other elected officials.

"I believe that Wisconsin taxpayers should know the estimated cost of running a statewide election before petitions are circulated. Taxpayers need this cost estimate so they can make a better informed decision as to how their tax dollars should be spent. This is essential information because the recall election costs will have a direct impact on all county and local government budgets," he wrote.

On Jan. 6, the GAB returned a letter to Vos explaining how they compiled their figures. In a nutshell, the agency asked counties and municipalities to fill out a survey with estimates based on the November 2010 and April 2011 election costs. The numbers were broken down into county, municipality and GAB costs:

  • Counties: $2,348,423.98
  • Municipalities: $5,821,898.20
  • GAB: $841,349
  • Total: $9,011,762.18

But Vos said that doesn't tell the whole story since this figure is for one statewide election. The $9 million price tag does not include a possible primary.

"There is every indication the Democrats could have more than one candidate, plus you have to consider the potential of state senate recalls," he said. "So, really, $9 million could just be the beginning, we could be talking as much as $20 million."

Because the costs associated with any additional elections beyond the spring and fall elections are not budgeted, counties and municipalities may have to cut needed services to pay for it all.

"Each election costs us from $100,000 to $200,000," said Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig. "Now, we do share some of that with the municipalities, but we aren't going to run a deficit so we'll have to get creative."

The Government Accountability Board in November 2011 estimated a cost to its agency of about $700,000, but has since revised that number to $841,349. The increase is because of a ruling on Jan. 5 by a Waukesha County judge that it is the GAB's responsibility to verify signatures. An extra $100,000 may be needed to pay for software and another $8,650 for an off-site facility.

But Vos said even that number isn't concrete.

"There might be some extra money needed for staff or equipment," he said. "And if they come to us at the Finance Committee and ask for the funds, I'm going to say 'yes' because I want to help make sure there's as fair a process as possible."

The committee, he explained, has a contingency fund, but,again, he stressed, that means cutting from somewhere else.

"That money could be used for other initiatives like job creation, but we'll have to spend it instead on these frivolous recall elections," Vos stated.

Graeme Zielinski, communications director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, responded.

"The cost of doing nothing is far greater. $133 million is the increase in fees that Scott Walker has created; $70 million is amount of taxes he's raised on seniors and working poor; $2.3 billion is the hole he blew in our budget to give tax breaks to corporations," he said. "Rep. Vos didn't have a problem with costs when Walker's political machine tried to recall Gov. Doyle. There is no one who has taken money from the municipalities more than Scott Walker himself to pay for tax cuts for the super rich, and there is always the $2.6 billion cut from education that can't be forgotten."

Potential timelines, according to Racine County Clerk Wendy Christiansen, would put the earliest elections in late May or early June.

"The GAB will keep us informed, but barring any legal challenges, we expect elections late this spring or early this summer," she said.

Vos charges recall organizers with costing taxpayers the maximum amount of money because they waited so long to file their initial petitions.

"No one looked at the calendar and thought about trying to line things up with scheduled elections to save money," he said.

But Zielinski disputes this.

"The big lie is that they control the timeline with challenges, and that means delays. We're going to have a number that is beyond any logical or reasonable challenge," he said. "If they care about the taxpayers, drop any challenges and let the process proceed. Time is the only thing that Walker has because if the election were held today, Walker and (Rebecca) Kleefisch would be collecting their unemployment checks."

Vos is almost certain there will be a primary in a gubernatorial recall election, and Zielinski didn't disagree, but he wouldn't name any names on potential candidates.

"We have a strong bench of candidates, and the people will decide through the primary process," he said.

Drive To 24 January 18, 2012 at 11:35 PM
MADISON, WISCONSIN—Wisconsin’s embattled Governor, Scott Walker, vowed Tuesday night not to let the successful recall drive against him hinder his fight to “bring this great State of ours to the edge of fiscal and economic ruin.” “Our reforms have managed to consistently place Wisconsin in the bottom of national statistics for new job creation and economic development,” Walker stated. “This is not the time to deviate from that course, now that our goal of total financial ruin is so close.” Walker pointed to a number of policies enacted since he took office that he claims helped get Wisconsin to its current state of economic collapse, including refusing millions of dollars from the federal government for high speed rail, slashing education and local government budgets, and denying thousands access to health insurance. “But there’s a lot left to do,” Walker added. “We still have critical state-level issues we need to address, like outlawing contraception, building even more puppy mills, and instituting the second prong of my conceal-and-carry legislation, the 'shoot-to-kill' exception for The Gays, before we can declare victory in the battle against the middle class.”
Drive To 24 January 18, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Federal law requires that states seeking a waiver to reduce or eliminate access to public health care certify that they have, or project to have, a budget deficit. In seeking a waiver that would restrict or eliminate health care for thousands of Wisconsin families, Scott Walker’s administration certified in a December 29, 2011 letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that, “Wisconsin would have a budget deficit, based on generally accepted accounting principles, during state fiscal years 2012 and 2013…” The admission by Walker’s administration that Wisconsin carries a budget deficit contradicts Scott Walker’s perpetual campaign lie that his “reforms” are working for Wisconsin, and that he has eliminated “a $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes.”
Drive To 24 January 18, 2012 at 11:44 PM
A political sociopath!
Randy1949 January 18, 2012 at 11:48 PM
So the likes of Hank Greenberg wants to keep Gov. Walker in office? This is very telling.
Heather Asiyanbi January 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM
I'm not naming names here, but the personal attacks must cease. Debate the issues, of course, but we're done getting personal just because opinions differ.

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