Wisconsin Republicans seek to curtail governor's veto power

Republican lawmakers have proposed a state constitutional amendment that would curtail the Wisconsin governor's powers by prohibiting a partial veto that increases any tax or fee.

Associated Press

January 31, 2024

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Tony Evers speaks into a microphone while standing in a room with wood wall paneling and marble masonry.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers gives his annual State of the State address on Jan. 23, 2024, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison. (Credit: AP Photo / Morry Gash)

AP News

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans proposed a constitutional amendment on Jan. 31 that would curtail the governor’s veto powers by prohibiting a veto to increase any tax or fee.

The move comes after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers used his partial veto in July to increase school funding for public schools for the next 400 years. Republicans proposed a similar amendment in 2019 after Evers used his partial veto to increase school funding by $65 million, but it did not get a vote in the Legislature.

Wisconsin governors have the most expansive partial veto power in the country because, unlike in other states, they can strike nearly any part of a budget bill. That includes wiping out numbers, punctuation and words in spending bills to sometimes create new law that wasn’t the intention of the Legislature.

Wisconsin’s partial veto power was created by a 1930 constitutional amendment but has been weakened over the years, including in reaction to vetoes made by prior Democratic and Republican governors.

Republicans have increasingly been turning to constitutional amendments to get around Evers’ vetoes. The amendments are not subject to approval by governors. If passed by the Legislature in two consecutive sessions, they are then put on the ballot for voter approval.

That means the soonest the latest proposal could be adopted would be 2025.

“If adopted, this amendment would appropriately rebalance power between the executive and the legislature and further restrict the executive from completely rewriting laws that are not representative of the people,” Republicans who introduced the measure said in an email seeking co-sponsors.

The lawmakers proposing the measure are state Sen. Dan Knodl and state Reps. Amanda Nedweski, Joel Kitchens and Shae Sortwell.

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