Walker defends lame-duck bills, says he’s considering line-item vetoes

Gov. Scott Walker says the lame-duck legislation doesn’t amount to “a fundamental shift in powers” away from incoming Dems Tony Evers and Josh Kaul.

Criticizing the “huge misinformation out there” about the bills, the guv told reporters at a stop in Pewaukee Tuesday Evers would still have authority to appoint cabinet officials, offer a biennial budget and wield a powerful veto pen, adding: “none of that goes away.”

“So for all this hype and hysteria, much of which I think is driven by fundraising for political purposes, the bottom line is there’s not a fundamental shift in powers, no matter what happens with this legislation,” he said, according to audio provided to WisPolitics.com.

Walker, whose comments came after he put out a statement hinting at his support for some of the extraordinary session bills, said he shut down suggestions from lawmakers to go after the guv’s veto powers in the extraordinary session bills.

That includes “reigning in” the governor’s veto power over 13.10 requests and other administrative actions, he said.

“I said, ‘No, I would not support that. There’s no way I would support that because that would take power away from the governor,'” he said.

Walker also said he’ll “most likely” issue “at least one if not multiple line-item vetoes” to the bills that cleared the Legislature last week.

That could include altering language that would give the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Board the power to pick the CEO, he said. The guv’s ability to appoint the agency head would be restored Sept. 1. Walker said Evers raised the issue in their call last week.

And Walker said he has “concerns” with provisions surrounding Medicaid, though he didn’t elaborate. The legislation includes language that would codify the implementation of a waiver to make changes to the state’s program. Health care organizations last week warned the changes could lead to “unforeseen implementation challenges” that could harm the program and its members.

Still, Walker noted it’s yet unclear how he could use his line-item veto authority with the bills. He noted that one of the bills — SB 886 — appropriates funds, meaning he could line-item veto provisions within it. Of the other two, Walker said he could potentially nix language from one of them because it deals with appropriations. The guv’s office didn’t return requests for comment identifying which one of the bills he’s looking at.

According to the office of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, the guv hasn’t yet called for the bills. He has until Dec. 20 to request them before the bills would be automatically sent to his office. Once Walker receives them, he’d have a week to take action on the bills.

Walker wrote in a social media post his criteria for whether he signs the extraordinary session bills Republicans approved last week includes if they improve transparency, increase accountability, affirm stability and protect taxpayers.

In a Facebook post, Walker hinted at his support for several provisions in the three bills and argued the “new governor” would still have significant powers if he signed the bills.

Walker wrote that includes the broadest line-item veto of any guv, the ability to make appointments, sign off on administrative rules and pardon convicted felons, among other things.

“Let’s set the record straight — the new governor will still have some of the strongest powers of any governor in the nation if these bills become law,” Walker wrote to open the post.

Britt Cudaback, a spokeswoman for Evers, said Walker knows voters “demanded a change” on Nov. 6 and urged Republicans to “stop putting politics before people and to start working together with the incoming Evers administration on the pressing issues facing our state.”

“Governor Walker knows this and needs to decide whether he wants the final act of his legacy to be overriding the will of the people,” she said.

Walker highlighted four provisions in the post in describing his criteria:

*He wrote it seemed “reasonable” for the public to know if a convicted is pardoned by the guv.

*He wrote it “makes sense” that lawmakers should “have some say in how the state might spend a multi-million legal settlement.” One provision would require the attorney general to submit settlements to the Legislature for review.

*He also wrote it “makes sense” to put in statute waivers the state received from the federal government. That includes

*Walker also signaled support for a provision that would make clear new revenue from online sales would go to income tax reductions. The 2013-15 budget included a provision saying revenue from some online sales would go to tax cuts if Congress approved states collecting the money from retailers that don’t have a physical presence in their jurisdictions. But the collections were approved by a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

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