GOP Targets Governor’s Veto Power Because Evers Dared To Use It!

As part of passage of the Wisconsin State Biennial Budget, Governor Tony Evers (Democrat) used his veto pen a number of times to change items in the Republican drafted budget to better fit his vision for the state.

Wisconsin’s governors have the most powerful budget veto pens of any of the governor in the US. Using the veto, a governor can cross out words or sentences to change the meaning of budget items.

In this case Governor Evers crossed out a few things that actually allowed for an increase in spending in some areas. And the whole GOP leadership in the state legislature came unglued…despite the fact that governors of both parties have been doing the same thing for decades.

Republican lawmakers want a longtime — if controversial — power of Wisconsin governors to be taken away from Tony Evers, whose predecessors in both parties for decades have used their veto pen to increase spending in state budgets over what lawmakers approved.

Governors used vetoes to increase state spending above levels set by lawmakers 31 times since 1991 and increased bonding levels seven times during that time, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau.

Republicans are proposing to amend the Wisconsin Constitution to bar Evers and future governors from issuing such vetoes after Evers steered $65 million more in funding to schools in the state budget than what lawmakers approved.

And why do you suppose they are calling for a change now?

Republican Sen. David Craig of Big Bend acknowledged Wednesday it was Evers’ $65 million in additional spending and not Walker’s $250 million in more borrowing that prompted him to propose an amendment to the constitution but said his reasons were not tied to Evers’ political party.

“The structure of the way that the governor did this veto certainly triggered something in me that hasn’t been triggered in the past, but I fully expect we’ll have a Republican governor one day, and am I hamstringing that Republican governor? Absolutely I am,” Craig said in an interview. 

Now…given the fact that the GOP legislature passed any number of laws restricting the power of the governor during their lame duck session between the November elections and the governor’s inauguration…and then refused to use the governor’s proposed budget and instead writing their own just a month or so ago…Sen. Craig’s denial that this was anything but a partisan move…is bullshit.

I am not opposed to the legislature reviewing…and amending the governor’s veto power if necessary. I object to the blatant manner in which they are doing it…and the fact that…yes…indeed it is an attack on the Democratic administration.

So, if the Republicans really want to do this…I’d suggest that instead of floating their own little bill…they put together a joint bipartisan committee to determine best practices for budget development and veto authority…based on Wisconsin’s experience…and other similarly situated states as well. And then put together a bipartisan bill proposing a viable and workable amendment. Enough with the hogwash.

side note: an additional $65 million for education doesn’t seem like something to get upset about…


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