WILL Sues Evers at Wisconsin Supreme Court Over Budget Vetoes

Original action asks Supreme Court to rein in, limit partial vetoes

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, on behalf of three Wisconsin taxpayers, filed an original action Wednesday to the Wisconsin Supreme Court asking the Court to review Governor Evers’ use of partial vetoes. WILL argues Governor Tony Evers improperly and unlawfully used his partial veto powers on various provisions of the Wisconsin State Budget, 2019 Wisconsin Act 9, on July 3, to, in effect, create new laws never approved by the legislature.

The Lawsuit: When Governor Evers signed the state budget on July 3, he carved it up with partial vetoes. This is a common practice. Wisconsin’s partial veto power is, famously, one of the most powerful and expansive in the country. But it is not a magic wand that governors can use to change the fundamental policy measures contained in approved budget provisions. WILL’s complaint argues that Governor Evers violated the law when he used the partial veto to fundamentally change several policies enacted by the legislature. Four examples:

  • A partial veto turned what was a grant program to replace school buses into funding of up to $10 million for electric vehicle charging stations.
  • A partial veto altered funds to local government for improving local roads into a virtually unrestricted fund.
  • A partial veto altered uniform vehicle registration fees for trucks.
  • A partial veto expanded the definition of “vapor products” and may have altered tax and regulatory authority.

Under the Wisconsin Constitution, the governor may veto appropriation bills in whole or “in part.” That is, and will remain the case barring a constitutional amendment. But in each of these cases, Governor Evers’ vetoes, in effect, created new laws never voted on by the state legislature. WILL is asking the Court to review Governor Evers’ partial vetoes to safeguard the rule of law and the separation of powers.

The Quote: WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said, “The governor’s veto power has been used creatively, and sometimes absurdly, by governors of both parties. But the partial veto cannot act as a magic wand, creating new laws out of whole cloth. Governor Evers’ partial vetoes go beyond the acceptable scope of this power, and WILL is asking the Court to review and rein in the partial veto power to safeguard liberty and defend the Constitution.”

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