**Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers Uses Expansive Partial Veto Power to Lock in School Funding Increase for 400 Years**
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has faced backlash for his recent partial veto that aims to secure a school funding increase for the next 400 years. However, this move is just the latest example of the extensive powers afforded to Wisconsin governors due to their unique partial veto authority. Unlike governors in other states, Wisconsin governors have the ability to strike nearly any part of a budget bill, including numbers, punctuation, and words, to potentially create new laws that were not originally intended by the Legislature.
**Wisconsin’s Expansive Partial Veto Power: Setting the Stage for Creative Budget Cuts**
Wisconsin’s governor enjoys the broadest partial veto power in the country, which has set the stage for a longstanding game of political maneuvering between governors and the Legislature. Lawmakers often try to draft bills in a way that minimizes the potential for creative vetoes, as these vetoes are rarely overturned due to the requirement of a two-thirds majority in the Legislature.
**Gov. Evers’ Creative Move: Locking in School Funding Increase for Centuries**
In a recent example, Gov. Evers used his partial veto power to reshape a two-year state budget passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The budget included language that increased the per pupil spending authority for K-12 public schools by $325 in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years. However, Evers strategically eliminated the “20” and the hyphen, effectively extending the school funding increase until the year 2425. This means that, unless future governors and legislatures take action to reverse it, the amount that schools can spend through property taxes and state aid will annually increase by $325 until 2425. This unprecedented move secures a funding increase for a whopping 402 years, exceeding the length of time the United States has been a country.
**A History of Creative Partial Vetoes in Wisconsin**
Gov. Evers’ creative veto is not the first of its kind in Wisconsin. Former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, exercised his veto power in 2017 to extend the deadline of a state program from 2018 to 3018, earning it the nickname of the “thousand-year veto.” He also delayed the start date of another program by 60 years. Additionally, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, also a Republican, was known for his use of the “Vanna White” veto, where he eliminated and rearranged letters like the co-host of Wheel of Fortune to change word phrases. Thompson holds the record for the most partial vetoes by any governor in a single year, with 457 in 1991. In comparison, Gov. Evers exercised 51 partial vetoes this year.
**The Power of Wisconsin’s Partial Veto: Shaping Legislative Intent**
Wisconsin’s partial veto power is uniquely influential because it allows the governor to alter the intent of the Legislature, as demonstrated by Gov. Evers’ recent veto. Kristoffer Shields, director of the Center on the American Governor at Rutgers University, believes that this unprecedented move will lead to changes in how executive power is taught and understood. Although many Wisconsinites may be surprised by the governor’s authority to make such vetoes, it is worth noting that the power of the partial veto has been significantly curtailed over the years through constitutional amendments and court decisions.
**Potential Legal Challenges and Future Implications**
Rick Esenberg, director of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, anticipates a legal challenge to Gov. Evers’ 400-year veto. Some argue that the use of such creative vetoes is an absurd way to make laws. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has previously overturned some of Gov. Evers’ partial vetoes, but it has yet to provide clear guidance on what is allowed. Moreover, the court’s recent shift from conservative to liberal control further complicates the potential outcome of future rulings on veto power.
**Political Implications and Criticism**
While legal questions surround the 400-year veto, conservatives are seizing the opportunity to criticize Gov. Evers and his decision. They argue that the ever-increasing spending authority granted by the veto will result in higher property taxes over the next four centuries. Republican Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August warned taxpayers to expect skyrocketing property taxes when receiving their tax bills in December. However, former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle commended Gov. Evers for effectively restoring an automatic increase in school spending authority that had been in place since the 1990s. This authority was eliminated by Doyle’s successor, Gov. Walker, and the GOP-controlled Legislature.
In conclusion, Gov. Tony Evers’ recent use of the extensive partial veto power in Wisconsin has sparked controversy and surprise. By creatively manipulating the budget bill, Evers has secured a school funding increase for the next 400 years. This move is not unprecedented in Wisconsin, as previous governors have also employed the partial veto to shape legislation. However, legal challenges and political implications remain uncertain, and the power and limitations of the partial veto may continue to be a subject of debate in Wisconsin politics.