Walker will demonstrate personal restraint when applying the governor's veto

Veto is a unilateral power maintained by the head of the executive branch.  In the case of Wisconsin, it is Governor Scott Walker who wields this power with his 19 pens.

In an appropriation bill, such as the state budget, the Wisconsin governor has the power to strike individual words. Walker won't need the single-word veto for the 2011-2013 state budget.

In the news:  Governor Walker's Secret Weapon: The Wisconsin Veto

Back in February, the Atlantic discussed the near-impossibility of writing a veto-proof bill in Wisconsin.  During the early stages of the legislative attack on collective bargaining, "the deal floated by moderate Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz, under which collective bargaining rights would automatically reactivate in 2013," was ignored by both sides.  Jordan Ellenberg, with the Atlantic, hypothesized this was because the Wisconsin governor's single-word veto makes certain compromises impossible to enforce.

Hypothesis: The governor can strike items but cannot add them.  When the legislature worked uncompromisingly and under a strict deadline, the exact wording of the budget was easily controlled.  This allowed Walker's Senators, in defiance of the Republican-lauded, constitutionally-encouraged notion of "separation of powers", to set things up quite nicely for Governor Walker.

Walker can appear to demonstrate personal restraint by striking only complete line-items.  The carefully controlled extraordinary session has exempted Walker from the need to use the single-word veto; he can produce the same result without it.

Future work:  The "Separation of Powers" Doctrine: Why Do We Separate the Powers of Government?

Fun with resources:
  • The Governor's Veto Power: To What Extent Can the Governor Reject Legislation?
    Excerpt:  Wisconsin provides the governor with one of the most versatile and powerful veto powers in the nation.  Although the governor may no longer choose individual letters within a word to veto, he or she may strike individual words within an appropriation bill to refashion legislation.  Additionally, the governor may reduce appropriation amounts by striking individual numbers and writing in a lower number.
  • Special and Extraordinary Sessions of the Wisconsin legislature
    Excerpt:  When the legislature calls an extraordinary session, it can focus its attention on specific legislation it wants to expedite.
  • More Republican Fast-Tracking
    Excerpt:  Their buzzword is "streamlining," but their intent is to limit citizen input and pave the way for special interest favors at the expense of shared, publicly-held resources. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


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