While he is not saying whether or not he supports the bill, Governor Scott Walker does believe a bill barring county executives from serving in the state Legislature at the same time is worthy of discussion.
The Republican-backed legislation is scheduled for a vote in the state Senate Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has said it’s in response to concerns that somebody could draw two taxpayer-funded salaries at the same time, a process referred to as “double dipping.” Walker served in the Legislature and as a county executive, although not at the same time. He gave up his position as Milwaukee County executive after winning the race for governor in 2010, and says he never would have considered holding both jobs at the same time. “There’s no way you can do both jobs,” Walker says.
The governor says being a county executive is as a full time job, and requires a great deal of attention from the person serving the position. “There’s only 11 county executives in the state,” Walker notes. “They’re typically in larger counties, they typically require more hands on…they’re really full time positions.”
AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker says idea is worth considering (:33)
The push to make the change comes as Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a Democrat, is mounting a bid for a state Senate seat next fall. If elected, he would not be the first person to potentially hold both offices at the same time. Former Republican state Sen. Paul Farrow briefly held both after he won an election to become Waukesha County executive, while former Independent state Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer served in the Assembly and as Manitowoc County executive for several years. Walker notes that Farrow gave up his seat shortly after the budget was settled last summer to focus on his county, and while “I haven’t talked to Bob directly, he’s talked about how difficult that was to do.”
Critics of the bill have argued it’s nothing more than an election-year attempt to make Harris look bad to voters, as he runs for a seat currently held by a Republican.