Lawsuit asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to strike down governor's 400-year veto


MADISON, Wis. — MADISON, Wis. (AP) —

Attorneys with Wisconsin‘s largest business lobbying group asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to strike down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ use of a partial veto to lock in a school funding increase for the next 400 years.

The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Litigation Center filed the petition on behalf of two taxpayers. It will be up to the liberal-controlled Supreme Court to decide whether to hear the case before it goes through lower courts, which is where cases typically start.

At issue is a partial veto Evers made of the state budget in July that increased how much revenue K-12 public schools can raise per student by $325 a year until 2425. Evers took language that originally applied the $325 increase for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years and instead vetoed the “20” and the hyphen to make the end date 2425, more than four centuries from now.

Wisconsin governors, both Republican and Democratic, have long used the broad partial veto power to reshape the state budget. It’s an act of gamesmanship between the governor and Legislature, as lawmakers try to craft bills in a way that are largely immune from creative vetoes.

But the lawsuit contends that Evers exceeded his veto authority and his action was unconstitutional.

“The law is clear,” said WMC Litigation Center Deputy Director Nathan Kane in a statement. “Voters and their elected legislators are the ones empowered to increases taxes, no one else.”

Evers’ spokesperson, Britt Cudaback, responded to the lawsuit by saying that “Republicans and their allies will stop at nothing to take away resources from our kids and our public schools.” She did not address claims in the lawsuit that the governor’s actions were unconstitutional.

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

Voters adopted constitutional amendments in 1990 and 2008 that took away the ability to strike individual letters to make new words — the “Vanna White” veto — and the power to eliminate words and numbers in two or more sentences to create a new sentence — the “Frankenstein” veto. Numerous court decisions have also narrowed the governor’s veto power, which has drawn bipartisan support and criticism for decades.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, then controlled by conservatives, undid three of Evers’ partial vetoes in 2020, but a majority of justices did not issue clear guidance on what was allowed. Two justices did say that partial vetoes can’t be used to create new policies.

The latest lawsuit contends that Evers’ partial veto is barred under the 1990 constitutional amendment adopted by voters.

“No Wisconsin governor has the authority to strike individual letters or digits to form a new word or number, except when reducing appropriations,” WMC Litigation Center Executive Director Scott Rosenow said in a statement.

The lawsuit asks the court to strike down Evers’ partial veto and declare that the state constitution forbids the governor from striking digits to create a new year or to remove language to create a longer duration than the one approved by the Legislature.

The Wisconsin Senate voted in September to override the veto, but the Assembly did not take it up. Republicans have a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which is needed to override a veto, but they don’t have enough votes in the Assembly without Democratic support. Republicans in January proposed a constitutional amendment to forbid the governor from using a partial veto to increase any tax or fee.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *