Budget panel votes to restore positions at Wisconsin Elections Commission

By Andrew Beckett, Wisconsin Radio Network 

The Wisconsin Elections Commission will have several staff positions Governor Scott Walker proposed cutting in his budget restored.

The panel on Tuesday voted to allocated more than $300,000 in state funding to support five of the six staff positions the governor had planned to cut. The jobs had previously been paid for with a federal grant that’s set to expire.

Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) said the move will allow the agency to fill the vacancies by providing “certainty” that the agency will have the resources it needs to run fair elections.

Democrats on the panel called for restoring all six positions. Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) argued those workers are needed to make sure elections are run smoothly and fairly. “The difference between six staff and five staff is the difference between better accountability, better accuracy, greater election integrity,” she said.

Nygren and other Republicans on the panel were quick to point out though that they can add funding for the sixth staff members down the road, if the agency makes the request and demonstrates there’s a need to fill the position.