When former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson used his creative use of the veto power on his first state budget, those of us who had worked on the document over many long months in the Statehouse were aghast. We could not believe the lengths that Thompson went to in order to insure that his executive decisions wiped out legislative intent. I recall the frank private discussions with others around the Capitol and without fail be they Republican or Democrat, there was a recognition/fear that this was a major turning point in how the state budget process would develop in future years. Those thoughts have been justified as we now know. Governor Doyle’s use of the veto is no less troubling. This is not a political issue, but one that concerns the process of governing.
To say the use of the creative veto is wrong and runs counter to creating good policy within the framework of a sensible governmental process is not enough. Today the Wisconsin State Journal hits the bulls eye and scores as the must read paragraphs in Sunday’s local newspaper. Most of us who care about government already know what needs to happen, and that is the creative veto practice needs to end…now! And State Senator Fred Risser needs to wake up and get to work on this matter. Fred, here is a good rule to follow…..good policy makes good politics. Now get to work!
The Wisconsin State Journal starts marking “Franken-time” today. That’s the time it takes Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, to hold a committee hearing and vote on a joint resolution to ban the “Frankenstein” veto. We’ll add a stitch to the monster’s head each day there’s no action.
Maybe when you’ve been in the Legislature for a half century, as Risser has, waiting more than a decade for such an important government reform seems like a short time.
But not for the rest of us — especially when Gov. Jim Doyle has shown how wildly he is willing to wield his veto pen.
Risser sponsored a ban on the “Frankenstein” veto back in 1991, when a Republican governor was abusing this power. Risser voted again for the same ban in 2005, when it was unclear if Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle would win re- election.
But now that Doyle has won re-election, Risser is dawdling on reform for partisan advantage. He wants to let his Democratic governor carve up another state budget or two before reining in this outrageously broad power.
Assembly Joint Resolution 1 would stop governors from using their veto pens to combine individual words and phrases from multiple sentences or even pages of the state budgets. This has been dubbed the “Frankenstein” veto because of the way the governor stitches together bits and pieces from reams of text to create monstrous law never approved by lawmakers.
AJR 1 is stuck in Risser’s committee after years of Risser pushing for the measure to advance.
It’s now 19 days since the spring election. How many more days will it take for Risser to do what’s right?