Gov. Tony Evers signs, partially vetoes budget he calls ‘insufficient,’ adds funding for schools
MADISON, Wis. — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has signed the two-year state budget using his line-item veto power on the Republican-written, two-year spending plan for Wisconsin.
Evers signed the budget Wednesday in his conference room at the state Capitol after weeks of speculation over whether he would fully veto the plan. Under state law, he had three options: sign the budget, veto it or partially veto it.
“This budget that I have now signed is, in many ways, insufficient,” Evers wrote in his veto message to the Legislature. “This is, in large part due to the unfortunate lack of interest by some Republicans in the Legislature to work together and engage in constructive, bipartisan dialogue, and instead devoting far too much time to huffing and puffing.”
Evers said in the message that he considered vetoing the budget in its entirety “because it did not do enough to ensure that our kids and schools have the resources they need to be successful.”
“Vetoing this budget in its entirety would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty, political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin have had to put up with for far too long,” Evers wrote. “And vetoing this budget in its entirety would have meant failing to acknowledge that because of the budget we–the people of Wisconsin and I–proposed together, Republicans finally took a step forward in making the investments required for progress to occur.”
He vowed–through separate legislation and future budget bills–to continue to fight to expand Medicaid and legalize medical marijuana, two provisions Republicans threw out of the budget.
— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) July 3, 2019
The veto message from Evers lists 78 separate vetoes, one of which increases per-pupil aid by $87 million more than the Legislature approved.
The Republican-written budget that passed both houses increased overall funding for K-12 schools by $505 million. After Evers used his veto pen, the total K-12 funding increase will be $570 million, meaning a net increase of $65 million in K-12 spending. Evers’ partial vetoes also removed some funding for a personal electronic computing devices grant program.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald had called on the governor to sign the plan into law, after approving language they had said made the document “veto-proof.”
Evers also faced pressure from other groups to sign the budget. If he had rejected the plan completely, he would have been the first Wisconsin governor to do so under the state’s current budgeting system, which began in 1931.
Some of the provisions Evers is getting rid of include:
Requiring the state to study the security and safety of the state Capitol and Capitol grounds.
Directing the state to repair part of the 400 Trail between La Valle and Union Center.
Requiring the Joint Committee on Finance to sign off on money for the construction of the Wisconsin History Museum.
Requiring the Department of Transportation to study tolling and mileage-based fees for drivers.
Requiring the Department of Transportation to charge all truck owners the same registration fee regardless of weight.
Putting a limit on how much the Department of Transportation is able to spend on security and safety of the lieutenant governor.
Evers’ scaled back funding for work requirements and drug screening for those who participate in the state’s FoodShare program, making it more difficult for the state to enforce those requirements. He said he objects to making able-bodied adults with children work and undergo drug tests in order to quality for the food assistance program.
The governor also modified section of the budget that provides funding to increase the number of district attorney positions across the state. He said he objects to assigning positions to certain counties instead of assigning positions to where they are most needed.
In Evers’ veto message, he said he objected to state lawmakers not providing enough borrowing authority for expansion of the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center, a secure treatment facility located at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison.
The governor said $59 million was needed for the project, but the Legislature’s proposal only provided $44 million, which would mean the facility could not construct enough beds. But Evers used his partial veto authority to make nearly $59 million in borrowing available for the project.
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