Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says GOP lawmakers want to increase legislative authority on things such voter ID rules, but pushed back at the suggestion he and Republicans are trying to undermine Dem Gov.-elect Tony Evers.
With Republicans set to lose the executive branch, Fitzgerald said he and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos are interested in codifying GOP moves in recent years on things such as the makeup of certain state boards. He said the list under consideration is “as long as my arm.”
Fitzgerald pointed toward the WEDC as a priority given Evers’ campaign trail pronouncement he’d gut it and replace it with the old Department of Commerce. Still, Fitzgerald said Republicans have no interest in taking away the governor’s power to appoint the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, an agency Evers has said he’s looking to shake up.
The Juneau Republican’s comments come after Vos told reporters Wednesday he’d be interested in rolling back some gubernatorial authority, suggesting lawmakers may have given outgoing Gov. Scott Walker too much power.
But Fitzgerald said the comments from Vos were mischaracterized.
“Tony Evers is going to have the most powerful veto pen in the nation. The idea that he’s not going to be able to keep the Legislature in check, I think would be naive to think that. It’s equal, balanced government, and we’ll respect Tony Evers like we have any other governor, and we’ll work with him,” he said.
Fitzgerald said he and his caucus are also open to scaling back rule making authority, but added any changes made would have nothing to do with Evers, but rather “how the caucuses feel about rulemaking.”
Evers denounced Vos’ comments in a tweet yesterday, writing the GOP efforts amount to “a complete violation of the separation of powers in our system.”
“Wisconsin voted for a change from the years of naked partisanship and divide-and-conquer politics,” he said. “This must end.”
The state schools superintendent added he’s committed to working with both parties “to get things done” on education, health care, infrastructure and more.
“There is a lot of common ground we can find,” he said. “But I will not tolerate desperate antics to cling to power and violate the checks and balances of Wisconsin’s government.”
But Vos in a statement said his aim is to ensure the Legislature’s “constitutional authority is reiterated and enforced.”
“Governor-elect Evers made a generous offer to work together so he should not have a problem with the legislation that may be considered,” the Rochester Republican said. “The reforms are intended to keep both sides at the table to reach a consensus.”
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling says Evers deserves a chance to govern.
She said her priority is to “get back to work” and address issues ranging from K-12 education to economic development and transportation.
And she knocked Vos for his “temper tantrum,” adding the speaker “is panicked over the loss of a Republican governor and the vision of a new day under a Democratic administration”
“I think the tone and the tenor matters, and the fact that you have a six-hour honeymoon is not fair at all to this incoming administration,” she said. “To demonstrate civility and genuine wanting to work together to find common ground on issues, it starts with our own words, it starts with our own rhetoric, so I want to be respectful working with this new administration as we move forward.”