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State taxpayers to spend extra $425K on fight for new redistricting maps

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MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Wisconsin taxpayers will spend another $425,000 to help majority Republicans try to keep the new legislative districts they drew last year -- and possibly give them an edge in this fall's elections.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Governor Scott Walker increased the limit on what outside attorneys can be paid to help the Justice Department defend a lawsuit against the new maps.

The firm of Reinhart-Boerner-Van Deuren had a $500,000 cap -- but that's now $925,000. The firm has already charged taxpayers $288,000 for its work. That's on top of the $400,000 in tax dollars that GOP lawmakers gave Michael Best and Friedrich for helping to draw up the new districts -- which will be the subjects of a trial in federal court over the next two days. 

Testimony begins Thursday in a lawsuit in which Democrats and Hispanics are trying to get the maps declared unconstitutional.

The court tried but failed over the last 2 days to get Republicans to agree to re-draw the maps on their own, so the plaintiffs' objectons could be addressed.

The plaintiffs say the new maps dilute the power of Hispanics in the Legislature, and require too many people to wait six years instead of four to vote for their new senators. The GOP said it drew the maps in accordance with population changes as required every 10 years. 

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