Officials from the Government Accountability Board estimated they would need more than $650,000 to fund the recall against Gov. Scott Walker and other legislators in the upcoming months, providing a stark figure of the size and gravity of the recall efforts.
According to the GAB budget summary for processing the 2012 recall petitions, the agency will request $652,000 for expenses such as temporary staffing, additional office space and supplies and equipment.
The summary was compiled based on the assumption that eight recall petitions will be filed. According to GAB spokesperson Reid Magney, the estimated costs have risen compared to the costs of the summer recalls, which were estimated at $88,000.
“The agency’s current budget does not include funds for recall elections in 2012,” Magney said. “We are looking at unprecedented recall activity. The constitution guarantees the people the right of recall and if recall petitions do get filed in January, the GAB needs the resources to process those petitions and determine whether recall elections must be held.”
According to the budget summary, $250,000 would be allotted for public education on the voter ID law, which now requires voters to present a valid Wisconsin driver’s license, a Wisconsin ID card from the Department of Transportation or a current ID card issued by a U.S. uniformed service.
The GAB filed its expected costs with the Joint Committee on Finance Thursday. According to University of Wisconsin political science professor Barry Burden, the estimates show the scope of the current political atmosphere in Wisconsin.
“This is a major effort for the agency to have to verify over half a million signatures in a relatively short period of time,” Burden said. “This is unprecedented.”
Dennis Dresang, political science professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, said the cost analysis is just a notice and the funds have not yet been requested by the agency. Burden said the board’s request for additional funds could be turned down by the committee, as they had been turned down recently in the past year.
Burden said that, should the GAB’s request be denied, the agency would probably be granted additional time to review the signatures, similar to the time frame from this summer.
He also commented on the fact that Republicans currently have a majority in the committee, and said they would not necessarily vote against supplying the GAB with the extra funds to address the recall efforts.
“I think they would like to see the signatures verified,” Burden said. “Even if that takes more money or time, they want that process to be done thoroughly. I can imagine Republicans supporting that because they want to make sure the petitions are valid.”
Dresang agreed with Burden, saying Republicans would want to challenge the signatures and call to require closer scrutiny of them from the board, which would take more time, effort and ultimately more funds to accomplish.
According to Dresang, the expense is not a big issue in the total scheme of the recall efforts.
“I think this is a concern that is pretty secondary,” Dresang said. “There are going to be costs with all sorts of different issues with our governing process, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t go ahead with them.”