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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Budget negotiations, redistricting plans on legislative agenda this week

Legislative redistricting and budget reform will take center stage this week in the state Senate and Assembly.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is continuing its deliberations this week and is scheduled to vote on the budget changes recommended by Gov. Scott McCallum to fill the state’s $1.1 billion shortfall.

McCallum’s proposal suggests phasing out about $1 billion in state aid to local governments to pay for such services as police and fire protection by 2004. The current budget bill also contains $127 million in cuts to state agencies.

The committee is scheduled to address most state agency budgets in the committee hearing Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Room 412 East of the State Capitol.

Redistricting is also continuing legislative debate this week.

Every 10 years, the Legislature must draw new maps for Assembly and Senate district boundaries based on new census figures to ensure equal representation among districts. Wisconsin is losing a congressional seat, dropping from nine to eight.

Now, the Legislature is in the midst of proposing a new state Assembly map, though most legislators and experts agree that planning new districts will probably be dealt with in the state’s courts.

One of the biggest concerns among legislators is minority representation–particularly in Milwaukee. The GOP redistricting plan creates six Assembly districts. Five of these proposed districts would be heavily populated by African-Americans and one primarily by Hispanics.

A map of the GOP’s proposed legislative redistricting legislation is available on the Internet at

The site allows people to track all redistricting bills introduced into the legislature as well as read the bill’s text. The site also allows zooming in on specific district segments allowing a more detailed examination.

Republicans maintain that their plan does more to increase
opportunities for minority representation in the state legislature.

In what may be a preview of the clash between Democrats and Republicans over redistricting, Democrats responded that their plan created more equal representation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala, D-Madison, said the Democrats’ plan ensures the preservation of “communities of interest,” and in doing so “respects natural boundaries.”

“The Democrats’ map is designed to preserve communities of interest and respect natural boundaries while keeping district lines compact and contiguous,” Chvala said. “The ability of the people in the five Assembly Districts and two Senate districts with an African-American majority to elect the candidate of their choice is respected and preserved. In addition, there is also an Assembly District with a

Hispanic majority to allow for the community to elect a candidate of their choice.”

But the Assembly’s committee on census and redistricting passed a Republican-drawn map Thursday.

The Assembly meets today at 9 a.m. to discuss AB 842, a bill concerning legislative redistricting.

Also, Gov. McCallum continued to dig for new ways to balance the budget by pledging last week to cut the state’s fleet of aircraft in half from 30 to 15. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the 30 planes consist of six from the Department of Administration valued at $14.1 million, 16 from the Department of Natural Resources valued at $441,000 and eight from the Department of Transportation valued at over $800,000. The total value of the 30 planes is estimated at $15.4 million.

However, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted 15-1 to force McCallum aides to cut the number of planes even further, from 15 to seven by the middle of 2003.

McCallum ordered the cuts after Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist said the planes did little but ferry the governor and other officials around the state.

One of the possible drawbacks to the proposed cut was addressed by Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah.

Kaufert noted that some of the planes are used to transport deaf and blind students back and forth from school. Despite the possibility of those students losing transportation, McCallum is expected to decide this week which planes he will preserve and which he will sell.

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