MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The battle over public union bargaining rights in Wisconsin has cost taxpayers almost $850,000 in legal bills – with more on the way.
The governor’s office said the state has paid $847,000 to the law firm of Michael Best and Friedrich to help the Justice Department defend lawsuits from both public and private unions over Act 10. That’s the 2011 law which virtually ended collective bargaining for most public employee unions in Wisconsin.
Appeals continue, as state and federal courts have issued conflicting rulings on the law.
Meanwhile, Democrats are crying foul over the legal bills. They also note that taxpayers shelled out $2 million to defend the Republicans’ redistricting plan – and lawsuits are sure to come over the new mining incentive law.
Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca says Wisconsin may be Number 1 in the country in litigation. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “The taxpayers are paying mightily, and for no good reason.”
But Governor Scott Walker’s office says not to blame them. Spokesman Cullen Werwie said the state had no choice but to defend multiple lawsuits from, “big government, special interest groups.” And Werwie said the state would continue defending laws that, “put the power back in the hands of the people again.”