Recall: Where do we get the money?
LA CROSSE, Wis. -- While the Government Accountability Board counts recall signatures, county clerk's Offices around the state are playing a wait-and-see game.
"There's not a whole lot for us to do accept mentally prepare for another year of a lot of elections. Until we know when the election date is, there's not a whole lot we can do to prepare," said La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer.
But what they do know is how much a primary to pick a Democratic challenger, and the recall election itself, could cost: $9 million statewide. It could cost $90,000 in La Crosse County alone.
But where is that money going to come from? It turns out, the funding is not being diverted from other projects. It's money we already have in a contingency fund made up of state and local tax dollars.
"That's just something that's set up for occasions like this when unexpected expenses come up," said Dankmeyer.
But the fund isn't just for unexpected elections. So what happens if there's another unexpected expense for the state, like a natural disaster?
"Then they've got a problem. At some point, if you run out of contingency money, you have to do some cutting," said UW-La Crosse Political Analyst Joe Heim.
There is a way to cut down on the recall's price tag. The $9 million figure is what it would cost to have a stand-alone primary and recall election. But if one or both of those happen at the same time as an existing election, like the ones we're already going to have in August or November, that would significantly cut down on costs.
"I'm actually thinking that the August date is not unlikely. The Government Accountability Board isn't stupid. They might very well figure out that this is the best time to do this and it would save the state a few million dollars,” said Heim.
But Heim says what people think of the recall's cost might really have more to do with how they feel about Gov. Scott Walker.
“It all depends on what side of the coin you're on here. If you don't believe in recalls, don't like the recalls, you're a supporter of Walker, you're going to say this is costing too much money. That's just the normal spin. The Democrats, and the labor union people, and the supporters of the recall are going to say this is the cost of democracy and this is a part of the process," said Heim.
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