Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
When Governor Doyle creatively used his veto pen, again, on Friday to make changes in the budget repair bill approved narrowly by each house of the Legislature, the move had Wisconsin voters scratching their heads.
They legitimately asked if they had done away with such crafty vetoes when they voted overwhelmingly on April 1 in favor of a constitutional amendment to do away with the Frankenstein veto.
How could Doyle do what he did?
Here is the question most of you voted, “Yes,” back on April 1:
"QUESTION 1: Partial veto. Shall section 10 (1) (c) of article V of the constitution be amended to prohibit the governor, in exercising his or her partial veto authority, from creating a new sentence by combining parts of two or more sentences of the enrolled bill? "
There was a fair amount of reporting by the news media prior to the April 1 vote that while there would be changes, Wisconsin’s governor, regardless of party affiliation, would continue to enjoy great veto power.
In January, The La Crosse Tribune wrote this:
"But even if an April referendum banning the practice is approved, Wisconsin’s governor still will have the strongest veto power in the country, an expert on state government said.
A ban on the Frankenstein veto would prohibit Wisconsin’s governors from combining disparate words and phrases from different sentences to stitch together new sentences in spending bills — and create new laws the Legislature never intended.
But governors would still be able to:
· Reduce spending amounts by eliminating numbers (striking a zero, for example, to cut an appropriation from $100,000 to $10,000);
· Reduce spending amounts by writing in lower figures;
· Effectively change policy in new laws by striking words within a sentence, or cutting whole sentences within a given budget item.
'Wisconsin still will have the most powerful veto (if the Frankenstein veto is banned), which makes the governor extremely powerful,' said Ed Miller, a political science professor at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point."
How did Governor Doyle use his veto authority last week?
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday:
“Doyle's vetoes were the first since voters slightly limited his powers on April 1. Voters approved a constitutional change that ended the 'Frankenstein veto' by saying that governors could not strike words from two or more sentences to make new sentences.But the governor still may strike individual sentences or parts of sentences and erase individual digits and string numbers together in one sentence. On Friday, Doyle used the 2, 7 and 0 from a reference to the years 2007-'09 to order $270 million in spending cuts by July 1, 2009.
Those cuts were much deeper than the $69 million for which lawmakers called.”
Remember, the governor, according to the approved constitutional amendment, is prohibited from “creating a new sentence by combining parts of two or more sentences of the enrolled bill.”
Take a look at what Doyle actually did.
As you can see, Doyle got around the prohibition my making edits in the same sentence.
It may look and sound stinky.
But the Legislature took the appropriate action in passing the constitutional amendment in two consecutive legislative sessions, and voters made the right call by voting, “Yes.”