Last week every community across Wisconsin spent thousands of tax dollars on an unnecessary recall election.
In a few weeks, our local governments will spend that same amount again. Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen estimates that a quarter of a million dollars will be spent on the recall elections in our county. So, it’s not surprising that the total cost of the two recall elections statewide is expected to exceed $16 million. I think we all can agree that’s too much money. These dollars could be better spent or even better, given back to the taxpayer.
Our state is turning into the recall state. My constituents continue to grow tired and frustrated with the never-ending campaign cycle. Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board says the recalls are a waste of time and money. “Politicians, regardless of party, should not be recalled over one issue or one (or even several) votes” (Journal Sentinel, May 4, 2012). I couldn’t agree more.
Let us not forget how we got here. Democrats and the big union bosses didn’t like our budget reforms. They ignored the fact that our reforms helped balance the state budget and save taxpayers more than $1 billion. They ignored that we eliminated a $3.6 billion deficit. Instead, Democrats would rather spend more of your tax dollars on recall elections. Remember, that’s $16 million of your tax dollars.
This past session, I introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 63 to recall the recalls. Under the proposed amendment, an elected official may only be recalled if he or she has been charged with a serious crime or violated a code of ethics. The legislation passed out of the state Assembly but was not called for a vote in the state Senate.
There are 19 states in our country that even allow recall elections. In eleven states, you don’t need a reason to petition for a recall. That’s where Wisconsin falls. In the Badger State, special interest groups who don’t like a particular vote can recall an official. It’s a part of our constitution that we must change in order to escape from this never-ending recall cycle.
Next session, I will once again introduce legislation to recall the recalls. It is my hope that we can put these unnecessary and costly recalls behind us once and for all. Since we will have to amend our constitution, two subsequent legislatures have to pass the joint resolution. Then, voters have to approve it in a statewide referendum. Hopefully, that election result will be a landslide in favor of recall reform.