Republicans and Governor Evers still divided on state’s next biennial budget



(The Center Square) – Wisconsin law gives governors in the state immense veto power, but it is not unlimited.

For example, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last year in Bartlett v Evers that some of Gov. Tony Evers’ 2019 budget vetoes went too far.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos noted Republicans are considering something similar over Evers’ last week’s line-item vetoes of the state’s next budget

Vos was on UPFRONT on Milwaukee TV over the weekend, and said Republicans are considering a lawsuit in response to Evers’ 400-year education funding veto.

“We’ve not talked about that formally, but it’s one of the things that we’re going to look at,” Vos said. “What Governor Evers did was something that was not done by any governor in our history, was not done by Tommy Thompson or Jim Doyle, wasn’t done by Scott Walker. It wasn’t done by any of them to strike out a dash to try to do something like this. So clearly we can see that it’s unprecedented and it can’t continue. It can’t continue for us to have a flourishing democratic process in the state.”

Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote that the governor cannot create new laws on his own.

“What the governor may not do is selectively edit parts of a bill to create a new policy that was not proposed by the legislature,” Hagedorn wrote.

“In many ways, Republicans in the Legislature have failed to meet this historic moment, sending my budget back to my desk absent critical investments in key areas that they know – and publicly acknowledge – are essential to the success of our state, all while providing no real justification, substantive debate, or any meaningful alternative,” Evers said in a statement. “That decision is, to put it simply, an abdication of duty.”

Evers defended his line-item vetoes. He noted he was encouraged by Republicans agreeing with many of his administration’s key priorities, which is the reason he didn’t veto the budget in its entirety.

“Vetoing this budget in full would mean abandoning priorities and ideas that I have spent four years advocating for; it would mean leaving schools and communities in the lurch after rightfully securing historic increases for the first time in years; it would mean forgoing the first real and substantive Republican effort to address PFAS after years of inaction; it would mean forfeiting the one of the largest investments in workforce housing in state history; it would mean deserting our justice system and state workforces, our tourism industries, our farmers and producers, and our veterans, among others,” he said.

Vos said the legislature never intended to give Wisconsin’s public schools a $325 per pupil increase each year until 2045.

“What we talked about was the fact that we struck a deal to have $325 per year in each of the two years to be able to go forward with funding this budget. We did not say it was okay to have one person use a creative veto to have property tax increases guaranteed for the next 400 years. That was never part of our discussion,” Vos said. “The way Governor Evers has gone about this is really underhanded and it’s something that’s going to have serious repercussions over the course of time if he wants to try to get anything done.”

Vos has called Gov. Evers a liar, and did so again over the weekend in UPFRONT.

“What the truth is the truth when you go ahead and make a promise, when you go ahead and negotiate a deal and then try to find an underhanded way to actually accomplish what you think is in your political best interests, that’s wrong. We have never been deceitful,” Vos added.

As for what comes next, Vos said there could either be a lawsuit from lawmakers or an outside group. Vos said there could also be an effort to reign-in the governor’s veto powers. But Vos said, ultimately, the Supreme Court will likely decide the matter.

“But if you look at the constitutional amendments that the people of Wisconsin have adopted, lawsuits have been brought already in Governor Evers first term, saying that he overstepped the broad authority that he has trying to get around the legislature. So if we have a fair Supreme Court, I’m certain that they will take a look again and probably agree with us as the past Supreme Courts have. But that’s the clear difference,” Vos said.

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