A 400-year veto Angers opponents in Wisconsin

Wisconsin governor’s 400-year veto angers opponents in state with long history of creative cuts, AP News, Scott Bauer.

Wisconsin’s governor attempted to lock in a school funding increase for the next 400 years by issuing a partial veto that angered his Republican critics and marks the latest creative use of the unique gubernatorial powers in the state.

Wisconsin allows governors to alter certain legislation by replacing words and letters wherever they see fit, and Gov. Tony Evers struck a hyphen and “20” to change the end date for a $325 per-student spending increase from 2025 to 2425.

With those seemingly simple changes, Evers enacted four centuries of funding increases that cannot be undone unless a court strikes it down or a future Legislature and governor intervene.

“Everybody will shout and scream,” said former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, “but he’s got ’em.”

Wisconsin governors have the most expansive partial veto power in the country because, unlike in other states, they can strike nearly any part of a budget bill. That includes wiping out numbers, punctuation and words in spending bills to sometimes create new law that wasn’t the intention of the Legislature.

Evers’ partial veto extends a school funding increase farther in the future — 402 years — than the United States has been a country — 247 years.

“It’s creative for sure,” said Bill McCoshen, a lobbyist who previously worked under former Gov. Tommy Thompson.