Wisconsin Public Radio

Republicans Seek to Limit Governor’s Veto

Legislators propose constitutional amendment to bar partial vetoes increasing spending.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jul 10th, 2019 10:42 am
David Craig. Photo from State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2013-14.

David Craig. Photo from State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2013-14.

Republican state lawmakers are proposing a resolution that would limit the veto powers of Wisconsin governors less than a week after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued 68 partial vetoes of the state budget.

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. David Craig, R-Big Bend, and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, would bar the governor from making any vetoes that increase state spending.

Evers used his veto pen to increase K-12 education spending in the budget by about $65 million.

“This unilateral abuse of power taken by the executive branch cannot go unchecked by the Legislature without seriously damaging the separation of powers doctrine in Wisconsin,” Craig and Kuglitsch wrote in the resolution’s sponsorship memo.

The lawmakers also wrote the “power of the purse” is held by the Legislature as a means of preserving a balance of power between the branches of government, particularly in regard to limiting the executive branch.

They called Evers’ veto a “power grab.”

The governor’s spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, dismissed the proposal as the action of “sore losers” who “want to change the rules every time they don’t get their way.”

“Republicans in the Legislature chose to ignore the will of the people, but Gov. Evers listened to the people who overwhelmingly said they wanted to see more investments in our public schools,” Baldauff said. “To be clear, this is a temper tantrum in response to Gov. Evers using his authority to align the budget more closely with the will of the people and put more money into our kids’ schools.”

The proposal appears to have a footing in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, issued a statement Tuesday saying he supports the plan.

“Governors of both parties have used their partial veto powers to increase appropriations above what is authorized by the Legislature, which is concerning to lawmakers who are tasked with setting spending levels,” Fitzgerald said in the statement. “I look forward to discussing this resolution in the coming months.”

“Governors of both parties have used their partial veto powers to increase appropriations Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, also said he supports the resoution.

“It’s common sense to not be able to increase spending through a veto,” Vos said in a statement. “I plan to have a caucus discussion on the amendment in the near future.”

Wisconsin governors have one of the most powerful veto pens in the country, with the power to remove words, numbers and punctuation from spending bills.

Former Gov. Scott Walker issued 99 partial vetoes of the last state budget of his administration.

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson was also a frequent user of the veto pen.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday after a conservative think-tank event in Madison, Thompson said he supports the potential change.

“I’m not going to criticize a governor for vetoes, but there’s one area I don’t think governors should be able to veto and I think that’s increasing appropriations,” Thompson said. “That’s left up to the Legislature.”

Wisconsin governor’s veto power has been limited gradually over the past 30 years through constitutional amendments.

In order for a constitutional amendment to go into effect it must pass two consecutive sessions of the state Legislature and then be approved by a statewide voter referendum.

In 1990, voters approved limiting the governor’s ability to delete letters from words to create new ones, a practice called the “Vanna White veto.”

In 2008, they stripped the governor’s power to delete words to create new sentences, which was called the “Frankenstein veto.”

Listen to the WPR report here.

GOP Lawmakers Propose Limiting Governor’s Veto Power was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

One thought on “Republicans Seek to Limit Governor’s Veto”

  1. mkwagner says:

    These are the same Republicans that rammed through a series of laws in a lame duck session that gave themselves executive power after Democrat Tony Evers defeated Republican Scott Walker. Their double speak is nothing more than another attempt to consolidate all governance in their hands. They can’t even claim they speak for the majority of the voters, who overwhelmingly supported the budget put forth by Gov. Evers. They have manipulated our elections such that they win legislative control even though they do not win the popular vote. What’s more, they actions demonstrate that they are more interested in doing the bidding of their corporate patrons rather than the citizens of Wisconsin.

    This proposal is nothing more than sour grapes.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us