Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers said Sunday he’s not optimistic that outgoing Gov. Scott Walker will veto bills approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature that would limit the new governor’s power.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Evers said he talked by telephone with Walker recently and appealed to him to veto the legislation, but that Walker was noncommittal.
Evers, who will be sworn in Jan. 7 after narrowly defeating the two-term Republican last month, said Wisconsin voters did not elect him to fight over administrative powers with the GOP legislative majority. He said the lame-duck legislation approved by lawmakers after an all-night session last week “gets us off to a bad start. And I think that’s a mistake.”
“But we’ll continue working to get the people of Wisconsin to convince Scott Walker to think about his legacy and make sure that he vetoes this language,” Evers said.
Walker has indicated that he generally supports the legislation though his office late last week said only that he was reviewing it. Walker has six days after the bills are delivered to him to either sign them into law, allow them to become law without his signature or veto them. He may also be able to line-item veto portions of them, depending on how they are drafted and whether they spend money.
If Walker signs the bills, lawmakers can decide when the state can withdraw from lawsuits, and Evers would have to request permission to adjust programs that are run jointly with the federal government, such as Medicaid.
The GOP measures also would empower legislators, not new Democratic Atty. Gen. Josh Kaul, to decide whether to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.
The bills also could make it harder for Evers to renegotiate a $3-billion subsidy spearheaded by Walker for a Foxconn Technology Group manufacturing facility in southeastern Wisconsin.
“If you look at this package of legislation, the Legislature is trying to say, ‘You have to get our permission to do stuff. We’re your supervisors,’” Lester Pines, a Madison attorney who frequently represents Democrats, has said. “The Legislature is not the supervisor of the governor.”
Evers said Sunday that if Walker had won, “We wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this today.” The incoming governor said the GOP moves are “directly related” to a Democrat’s win.
Though Evers has said he might have to sue unless Walker vetoes the legislation, he said he is “not making any promises one way or the other.”
“I need to stand up for the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said.
A Walker spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
In neighboring Michigan, where a Democrat also won the governor’s office this year, Republicans are considering proposals to strip campaign-finance oversight from the new Democratic secretary of state. With a Democrat poised to take control of the attorney general’s office, lawmakers also want to take authority to intervene in lawsuits.