Taxpayer cost of secretly drawn legislative maps is $300,000 and counting
June 28, 2011
The open records requests ask Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to let the public see maps being recently circulated among legislators, but not the public, that show proposed new boundaries for Wisconsin’s 33 Senate Districts and 99 Assembly Districts. The maps were created in secret by lawyers hired early this year by Republican legislative leaders at a cost to taxpayers of $50,000 a month, or $300,000 and counting, according to media reports.
Immediate public access to the redistricting information under consideration is also important because the legislature may vote on a redistricting proposal as early as next month before recall elections that could shift control of the Senate. Nine Republican and Democratic senators will face recall elections in August because of their actions to support or oppose a plan earlier this year by Republican Governor Scott Walker that ended most public employee collective bargaining rights.
States must redraw the boundaries of their legislative and congressional districts every decade based on new census data to make sure all districts have roughly the same population.
Redistricting in Wisconsin is done by the legislators it affects and can give one party an advantage over the other by creating more favorable legislative districts for future elections. This time around Republicans control the legislature and the governor’s office, but legislative redistricting plans since 1980 have ultimately been drawn up by the courts due to legal challenges.