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.
Finally, a state Senate committee vote has been scheduled on the constitutional amendment that I co-sponsored to do away with the Frankenstein veto. The amendment would prohibit governors, regardless of political party, from using their partial veto power to create new sentences, and thus, new appropriations.
The state Senate Committee on Ethics, Reform and Government Operations is scheduled to vote on Senate Joint Resolution 5, today, Wednesday, November 14, at 1 p.m., in room 330 Southwest at the Capitol. SJR 5 is the Senate's version of Assembly Joint Resolution 1. Both resolutions have the same wording.
The state Senate is the last stop for the amendment that must pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature before it can go to voters in a statewide referendum. The state Assembly passed the amendment February 1, 2007, on a vote of 70-25. Because the Senate did not act on the amendment by February 20, 2007, the amendment was not placed on the April 2007 ballot for voter consideration.
The refusal of Senate Democrats to schedule the amendment in a timely fashion meant that Governor Doyle retained his ability to abuse the most expansive veto authority of any governor in the country.
As I feared and predicted, Governor Doyle utilized the Frankenstein veto in the recently approved 2007-09. Two years ago, he was able to veto into the state budget an extra $427-million in spending the Legislature never authorized.
The Governor used his veto authority to eliminate the levy limit placed on technical colleges. The budget approved by the Legislature this week had imposed a cap on growth for technical colleges at four percent.
The Governor also used his veto pen to relax the limit placed on local governments by allowing municipalities to increase their levies by 3.86 percent or the rate of new construction for 2007.
The Governor’s actions almost certainly signal increases in local property taxes, especially for technical colleges that have seen the largest increases of any portion of local property tax bills in recent years.
Two years ago, he was able to veto into the state budget an extra $427-million in spending the Legislature never authorized.
So, even if the Senate approves the constitutional amendment, and the amendment is approved by statewide voters in a referendum, Governor Doyle has already done his damage in another state budget.
The Senate must approve the constitutional amendment in its present form. Some Democrats are suggesting, for purely political reasons that they want to delay a statewide vote until after Governor Doyle finishes his term. That would allow Governor Doyle to play more Frankenstein games with the 2009-2011 state budget.
The budget shenanigans need to stop along with the abuse of the Governor’s veto authority now. The senate needs to expediently approve this amendment so voters statewide can have their say at the ballot box