State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Bob Lang and Sandy Swain of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau prepared an informational paper on the state budget process in January 2007. They write:
“Regardless of the approach used to resolve any differences, once the differences between the houses are resolved, a final budget bill, as passed by the Legislature, is prepared for the Governor's consideration. The bill at this stage--termed an "enrolled bill"--is not sent to the Governor until it is called for by the Governor. Typically, several weeks may ensue before the bill is requested. This allows the Governor and the Governor's staff time to review the items in the final legislative budget bill and to consider--in consultation with the State Budget Office, agency heads, legislators, and others--possible partial vetoes of the bill.
Article V, Section 10, of the Wisconsin Constitution provides the Governor with the power of partial veto for any appropriation bill,including the biennial budget bill. In contrast to a nonappropriation bill," this means that rather than having to approve accept or reject a bill in its entirety, the Governor may selectively "delete" portions of the budget bill. Thus, both language and dollar amounts in a budget bill may be vetoed by the Governor.
Typically, a Governor will partially veto a number of provisions in the legislatively-enacted budget bill, although the vast majority of the bill will become law in the form as passed by the Legislature. The budget bill (less any items deleted by the Governor's partial veto) then becomes the state fiscal policy document for the next two years.”
Governor Doyle has one of the most sweeping veto pens of any governor in the country. In November 2006, the Legislative Council in a memo on the state budget process wrote:
“Under the Wisconsin Constitution, the Governor has an extensive partial veto power, with the authority to partially veto any item in an appropriation bill, including the biennial budget bill. Thus, instead of having to accept or reject a bill in its entirety (as is the case with nonappropriation bills), the Governor may, in accordance with the following summary, selectively delete provisions of the budget bill, vetoing either language or dollar amounts, or both, in any given provision.
• The Governor may exercise the partial veto only on bills that include an appro-priation (but may veto nonappropriation parts of appropriation bills).
• The part of the bill remaining after a partial veto must constitute a complete, entire, and workable law.
• The provision resulting from a partial veto must relate to the same subject matter as the vetoed provision.
• Entire words and individual digits may be stricken; however, individual letters in words may not be stricken.
• Appropriation amounts may be stricken and a new, lower amount may be written in to replace the stricken amount.”
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau notes that, “Just as with a Governor's veto of a bill in its entirety, the Legislature has a chance to review a Governor's partial vetoes and may, with a two-thirds vote by each house, enact any vetoed portion into law, notwithstanding the objections of the Governor.”
In the 2005-07 state budget, Governor Doyle exercised his authority to make 139 partial vetoes to the bill, as passed by the Legislature. None were overturned by the Legislature.
One of the most egregious vetoes occurred when the Governor slashed hundreds of words out of several sections of the budget to create one sentence that transferred over $400 million out of the transportation fund to go to schools.
I am one of 49 lawmakers that signed on to a letter this summer asking Governor Doyle “to play a helpful role by publicly agreeing to enact the state budget” without using the Frankenstein veto.
We asked Governor Doyle to follow the parameters set forth in Assembly Joint Resolution 1 (AJR 1) that has bipartisan support. The resolution would prohibit any Governor, regardless of party affiliation, of using partial veto authority to create new sentences by combining parts of two or more sentences.
AJR 1 is awaiting state Senate action and approval from voters in a statewide referendum.
Our letter told the Governor that a public statement on his part to refrain from using the Frankenstein veto would respect both legislative and public sentiment.
My fear is that because the state Senate, led by Democrats, has stalled in taking action on the Frankenstein veto, that Governor Doyle will once again abuse his expansive veto power to make a bad budget even worse.