By Patrick Marley and Jason Stein
Secretary of State Doug La Follette sued Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday, arguing that the budget he signed Sunday violates the state constitution by interfering with La Follette's ability to maintain state records.
The spending plan Walker approved cut La Follette's budget by about half, transferred some of his duties to Walker's Department of Administration and called for moving La Follette's office from rented space into smaller space in the basement of the state Capitol.
The lawsuit comes a day after the Republican governor launched his presidential campaign. La Follette is a Democrat.
The state constitution requires the secretary of state to "keep a fair record of the official acts of the legislative and executive department of the state." La Follette's lawsuit, filed in Dane County by attorney Roger Sage, contends Walker's budget impedes his ability to do that.
"The constitutional and statutory mandate of the office of the secretary of state requires that the office of the secretary of state be adequately funded and have sufficient staff and physical space to faithfully perform the duties required of the office," Sage wrote in the lawsuit.
La Follette is asking Circuit Judge Rhonda Lanford to block implementation of the budget measures affecting him and ensure his office has adequate staffing, space and funding.
Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel will defend Walker in the case, according to Schimel spokeswoman Anne Schwartz. She said his office is reviewing La Follette's complaint.
La Follette has three aides and one temporary worker. Walker's budget reduces that to one aide and one temporary worker.
The space in the Statehouse basement the administration has designated for La Follette is about 900 square feet, according to the lawsuit. That's about a quarter of the size of La Follette's current office.
The budget provision is the latest attempt to weaken the powers of La Follette, who has been in office for 36 years and has seen his staff and duties repeatedly minimized.
Budget panel to meet
Meanwhile, the Legislature's budget committee is slated to meet Thursday to OK $26 million in cost overruns for the last fiscal year in the areas of transportation and corrections.
The Department of Transportation came up $15.9 million short for the fiscal year that ended June 30 and is seeking additional funds from the budget committee to cover that.
The Department of Corrections was $11.1 million over budget, though that amount won't affect taxpayers because the agency has money elsewhere in its accounts that it can use to cover the cost overrun.
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