A Wisconsin state senator announced a proposal last week to eliminate the office of the Wisconsin lieutenant governor and the office of the secretary of state.
Senate President Alan Lasee, R-De Pere, said he is authoring bills to remove the offices in response to an increasing state deficit.
The position of lieutenant governor is currently held by Democrat Barbara Lawton, who was the first woman in Wisconsin history elected to that office. Lawton is also the highest-ranking woman in the Wisconsin state government.
The lieutenant governor is the second-highest-ranking official of the state behind the governor and has the primary job as successor to the governor.
Lasee said he is not proposing the bill as a partisan plot, but added he feels the lieutenant governor’s position is unnecessary.
“I have wanted to eliminate this office for a long time, whether held by a Republican or Democrat,” Lasee said in a statement.
Lasee also said he wants to get rid of Wisconsin’s office of the secretary of state, a position currently held by Doug LaFollette.
The secretary of state is third in line for governorship and has many duties, including maintaining official acts of the legislative and executive branches, keeping the Great Seal of Wisconsin and serving on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.
LaFollette’s responsibilities could be absorbed by other state agencies, Lasee added.
Removing both the office of the lieutenant governor and the office of the secretary of state would save the state more than $1.5 million over the next two years, according to Lasee.
“In his budget address, Gov. Doyle stated he wants to cut 1,800 state jobs over the next two years,” Lasee said. “I agree with the governor that there are ways we can streamline state government and eliminate duplication.”
However, Lawton said the role of the lieutenant governor is very important.
“The authors of Wisconsin’s Constitution were very wise in ensuring that the person who stood first in line in succession to the governor was elected by all of the people of the state of Wisconsin,” Lawton said.
If the office of the lieutenant governor was removed, the speaker of the Assembly would take over if Doyle was not able to fulfill his duties.
Lawton said her office gives Wisconsin citizens the ability to have a voice with the state administration.
The office has more than doubled the ways people can have input in the state government, she added.
“The lieutenant governor works to extend the reach of the administration to more citizens around the state and to strengthen the works we do on their behalf,” Lawton said.
LaFollette also raised concern about Lasee’s proposal.
“I believe the duties of the secretary of state should remain with an elected official,” LaFollette said in a statement.
It would be detrimental if the responsibilities of the secretary of state were taken over by officials who were not elected by all of the people of Wisconsin, LaFollette said.
“Having a number of elected officials facilitates the flow of information and lets the people of Wisconsin exercise their right to participate in their government,” he said.