July 7, 2009
Governor Acts on Budget Bill
The Wisconsin Legislature completed its work on the state’s two-year budget, sending the final bill to Governor Doyle late last month. The Governor exercised his partial veto authority before signing the budget on June 29.
The veto authority provided to Wisconsin’s governors is one of the strongest in the nation. Four years ago, Governor Doyle abused such authority by stringing together words amongst four different sections of a budget bill to spend $427 million never authorized by the Legislature. This created a huge hole in the state’s transportation budget and was coined the Frankenstein Veto; since words were stitched together to create an altogether new sentence and new law never voted on by the Legislature. It had a life of its own!
A constitutional amendment was ratified by Wisconsin voters last spring to prohibit the Frankenstein Veto. While there were no egregious vetoes in this budget as there have been in the past, the Governor did violate the ban through one of his vetoes that created a new sentence by combining parts of others.
I support the partial veto as a tool a governor can use to curtail spending and eliminate policy changes while still enacting a budget bill. Budget bills can often serve as conduits to stick in non-fiscal policy and pork projects that would not otherwise pass if given full scrutiny. Partial veto authority gives our governor the ability to be a check and balance against such excesses.
It is unfortunate that Governor Doyle chose not to use his veto powers to veto out the over $40 million in pork projects included in the budget bill. It was disappointing that a state leader chose to not protect the taxpayer, instead giving deference to pork projects included by Democrats in the Legislature.
The Governor made some notable vetoes to the budget bill. He vetoed a provision in the budget bill that would have forbidden auto insurers from using home addresses to determine insurance rates for consumers. This provision was inserted by Milwaukee legislators to shift costs to residents in lower crime and accident rates generally found in rural and suburban areas. Another provision vetoed sought to require new withholding regulations on private contractors.
You can find a full list of the Governor’s vetoes on my website blog, found at www.harsdorfsenate.com.