The head of the state Government Accountability Board says it remains unclear if or when lawmakers might approve funding for the review of recall petitions. The GAB has asked for more than $400,000 to pay for staff and equipment tied to the review, which is expected to wrap up by the end of the month.
Agency director Kevin Kennedy says he’s unsure why that request was not taken up when the Legislature’s budget committee met earlier this month. He’s hopeful it’s because the Joint Finance Committee already had a full agenda, although he says lawmakers may be waiting for a total cost when the review process is complete.
However, JFC Co-Chair Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says he’s not convinced the funding should be granted. Vos says “just because they spent the money, doesn’t mean the Legislature should approve it.” Vos says he’s waiting for more detail and a better description of why the agency feels the money they have been spending is justified.
Vos has been critical of the GAB for not compiling a full database of the recall petitions that include the names and addresses of those who have signed. The agency has instead focused on a database that just includes names, so it can meet its obligation of identifying duplicate signatures.
Vos say that’s a waste of money that serves no public purpose. He questions why lawmakers would “pay money for a useless database.”
The Finance Committee will likely hold its next meeting over the summer, after the recalls have wrapped up and full cost estimates from the GAB will be available.
Agency staff says not being reimbursed by the Legislature could force them to shift money from other programs to cover recall expenses.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:09)