Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos Calls Governor Tony Evers a ‘Liar’, Expects Evers’ Partial Vetoes to be Challenged in Court

Democrat Governor Tony Evers’ “creative” partial veto that boosts public education spending for the next four centuries “proves he’s a liar,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (pictured above, right) said during a Sunday morning interview.

The Rochester Republican said the governor’s “unprecedented” veto trick leaves Republicans — and taxpayers who would be on the hook for 400-plus years of spending increases —  with “little option” but to take the governor to court.

Last week, Evers signed the state’s biennial budget, mostly crafted and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. But the liberal governor used Wisconsin’s powerful veto pen to scratch out the brunt of a historic tax cut and rewrite a portion of the budget to guarantee annual state-funded increases of $325 per student over the next 402 years — among 51 partial vetoes Evers issued.

Using what has been billed as a watered-down version of Wisconsin’s Frankenstein veto authority, Evers (pictured above, left) struck a dash and “20” from the original fiscal years 2024-25 budget to change the intent of the funding measure. Instead of funding a $325 increase for K-12 public school students for the next two years, Evers is forcing taxpayers — without legislative consent — to cover the increase through the year 2425.

“Certainly the idea that we’re going to have massive property tax increases, something that the governor said he was against, just proves he’s a liar,” Vos told told WISN-TV’s Upfront, produced in partnership with WisPolitics. “He lied to the people of Wisconsin on the campaign trail last year, he lied to us in the negotiating process, and it really calls into question his ability to try to find bi-partisan compromises” in the future.

WISN’s Political Director Matt Smith responded that calling a sitting governor a liar was a “bold accusation.” Vos said, “The truth is the truth.” He called Evers’ actions “underhanded,” the work of a “dictator,” not someone who respects and abides by the constitutional limitations of the co-equal branches of government.

Evers’ spokeswoman insists Evers did not break his word on the funding deals brokered with Republican leadership — deals that bring hefty state-shared revenue increases to Wisconsin’s local governments, bail out Milwaukee and Milwaukee County after decades of bad fiscal decisions, and deliver more than $1 billion in new funding for the state’s troubled public education system.

Vos begs to differ. The speaker said the governor used the cover a busy Fourth of July holiday week to huddle with staff behind closed doors to “find a way to maximize the tax increase on the middle class of Wisconsin and to minimize the ability of other branches [of government] to have their say.”

“That certainly, to me, shows he’s outside the democratic norms and something has to be done about it,” Vos said.

It appears that “something” is a looming lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the governor’s creative veto pen. Vos wasn’t sure if the challenge would come from the Republican-led Legislature, from a taxpayer advocacy group, or an individual Wisconsin taxpayer. But it appears there will be litigation in the days ahead.

He said it is very unlikely the Legislature will have the two-third votes needed to override Evers’ vetoes, despite the Republican-controlled Senate’s supermajority and the Assembly’s near-supermajority.

Wisconsin’s executive veto authority, while the most powerful in the nation, has been checked over time.

Over the past 30-plus years, voters have approved constitutional amendments to restrict the so-called Frankenstein veto that allows the striking of individual words in a bill following legislative passage rather than a veto of the full legislation. Beginning in 1930, Wisconsin governors were able to “alter text and numbers to create laws that not only may have been unintended by the legislature, but also that the legislature deliberately rejected.”

In 1990, Wisconsin voters amended the state constitution to provide that, “In approving an appropriation bill in part, the governor may not create a new word by rejecting individual letters in the words of the enrolled bill,” according to the state Legislative Reference Bureau. The amendment barred the governor from striking letters in a bill to create an entirely new word, a practice started by Governor Anthony Earl, a Democrat, and continued by Governor Tommy Thompson, a Republican who remains Wisconsin’s longest-serving governor. The creative use of the pen was commonly referred to as the Vanna White Veto, named after the Wheel of Fortune television game show sidekick, who flips letters to reveal word phrases.

In 2008, Wisconsin voters again amended the state constitution to prohibit the governor from creating “a new sentence by combining parts of 2 or more sentences of the enrolled bill.” The governor could still veto an entire sentence, or parts within a sentence, but could no longer create an entirely new sentence from parts of two or more sentences, according to the Reference Bureau.

In 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down three of Evers’ partial vetoes from the 2019 state budget, a decision that leaned heavily on the separation of powers. In short, he used his veto pen to make law, which is not the purview of the executive branch.

“While the governor’s partial veto power is incredibly broad, it should not be read to fundamentally upend the overall structure of our government embedded in our constitution,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote.” The constitution’s placement of law-creation in the hands of the Legislature means we cannot permit a practice that turns the governor into a one-person Legislature.”

Vos believes a fair Supreme Court will again find Evers’ education funding veto invalid.

But the Wisconsin Supreme Court is about to take a hard left turn. On Aug. 1, far left Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz will take her seat on the state’s highest court, giving liberals a 4-3 majority for the first time in a decade and a half. The 2020 decision checking the Democrat governor’s veto power came from a 5-2 conservative majority.

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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Gov Tony Evers” by Gov. Tony Evers and “State Rep. Robin Vos” is by State Rep. Robin Vos.



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One Thought to “Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos Calls Governor Tony Evers a ‘Liar’, Expects Evers’ Partial Vetoes to be Challenged in Court”

  1. Joe

    Like all corrupt, evil,dumbocraps, evers is just a another snake,in the party screwing over the overtaxed, american taxpayer.This jackass took away a tax cut, we all need, since the pandemic.He wants to raise our taxes,he is a worthless,incompetent,lying,governpor, and u voted this jerk,back in.U deserve what u get.