Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) used his line-item veto power to expand school funding in the state for the next four centuries on Wednesday, a blow to Republicans who were livid with the crafty use of executive power.
The governor vetoed a selection of words, numbers and a hyphen in the state’s new budget, which effectively stretched out an expansion in school funding for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years to an annual increase every year until 2425.
The initial budget allowed school districts to raise an additional $325 per student annually, ending the next school year. But the deletion of certain wording effectively expands that policy for 400 years, a change the governor said would “provide school districts with predictable long-term increases for the foreseeable future.”
“In many ways, Republicans in the Legislature have failed to meet this historic moment, sending my budget back to my desk absent critical investments in key areas that they know — and publicly acknowledge — are essential to the success of our state, all while providing no real justification, substantive debate, or any meaningful alternative,” Evers said in a veto message on Wednesday. “That decision is, to put it simply, an abdication of duty.”
The change could be undone by a future legislature or governor. The legislature could also override his vetos, but that is unlikely as the Assembly would need a two-thirds majority to do so.
Evers, a former public school educator, made 51 line-item vetoes in total, notably changing Republican-approved tax cuts for wealthy residents from $3.5 billion to $175 million. Republicans had hoped to condense the state’s income brackets, which would have provided massive cuts for top earners.
Republicans, who control both houses of the Wisconsin legislature, were livid with the move.
Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, said the increase in funding would impact homeowners who could suffer from “massive property tax increases in the coming years.”
“Legislative Republicans worked tirelessly over the last few months to block Governor Evers’ liberal tax and spending agenda,” Vos said in a statement. “Unfortunately, because of his powerful veto authority, he reinstated some of it today.”
Evers responded to the passage later Wednesday, posting of a photo of himself sipping from a mug to his official Twitter account.
The Associated Press notes that Wisconsin governors from both parties have had line-item veto power, which allows them to reshape state budgets in a legislative dance with lawmakers. Voters outlawed the “Vanna White” veto in 2000, which saw some governors delete specific letters to create new meanings.
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