Wisconsin Democracy Campaign on Gov’s Veto Power

July 18, 2019

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has long maintained that the veto power in the hands of the Wisconsin governor is excessive and is contrary to how the legislative process should work in a democracy.

Governors of both political parties have often used their veto power to change the intent of the legislation that lands on their desks and to increase spending.

This amounts to taking powers that properly should reside in the hands of the legislature.

“The veto power vested in the Wisconsin governor is goofy and out of whack,” says Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “No governor of Wisconsin should be able to make legislation out of whole cloth.”

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign believes that any governor, when he or she is exercising a line-item veto, must veto each item or appropriation in its entirety rather than using “creative editing” to construct a bill, or a section of a bill, that was not the intent of the legislature.

For this reason, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign supported the “Frankenstein Veto” amendment to our state constitution in 2008, which prohibited the governor from taking out letters in a word to make a new word. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign also supported the proposed amendment in 2009 and 2011 by Senator Fred Risser and Assembly Representative Gary Hebl, which would have required the governor to veto entire bill items or appropriations.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign recognizes the hypocrisy of Republican officials who only now are aghast at the governor’s veto power when they had no problem with that power when the governor was from their own party.

What’s more, the current proposal from Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch is only concerned with the governor using the veto power to increase expenditures rather than to alter the meaning of legislation.

For this reason, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is neither endorsing nor opposing the Craig/Kuglitsch bill.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign looks forward to working with other nonprofit, nonpartisan groups and with fair-minded legislators from both parties that understand the need to curtail this exceptional veto power, no matter who the governor is or from which party the governor hails.