If Gov. Tony Evers becomes the first Wisconsin governor since at least 1931 to veto a budget in full, Republicans might not reconvene until October to continue work on the spending plan that is supposed to take effect July 1.
That’s according to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who told a Wisconsin Health News audience of lobbyists and other political insiders Tuesday that a full budget veto by Evers would be a “huge mistake.”
The possibility of a full veto of the Republican budget is still on the table as the GOP-controlled budget committee wraps up work this week on a two-year budget plan. The committee has already jettisoned several of Evers’ top priorities.
After the budget committee casts its final votes, the Assembly and Senate must pass identical measures. After that, Evers could use one of the nation’s most powerful veto pens to reduce spending or alter text to significantly change the budget bill. Wisconsin governors cannot increase spending levels.
Overriding an Evers veto would be a heavy lift, requiring some Democratic support in both chambers of the Legislature.
Evers has not ruled out vetoing the entire GOP budget, currently being crafted, which so far includes a $500 million spending increase for the state’s public schools, $58 million increase for the UW System and a $484 million bump to help pay for the state’s roads. Republicans also plan to add a roughly $400 million income tax cut.
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Vos told reporters the final Republican budget won’t increase taxes more than it cuts them.
“The goal would be to have reductions in taxes that would equal any revenues or beyond any revenues that were created,” Vos said.
Republicans axed the governor’s proposal to expand Medicaid, which Evers said would have saved the state $324 million in 2019-21 and brought in $1.6 billion in additional federal money.
If Evers were to veto the entire budget in full, which has never been done by a Wisconsin governor since at least 1931, revenues and spending levels would carry over from the budget currently in place. Vos thinks it might prompt Democrats to reconsider nixing the GOP plan.
“The longer we operate under the old budget,” Vos said, “the more I think an awful lot of the people in the state of Wisconsin say, ‘Wait a minute, why are you increasing spending in the way that you did?’”