Education Advocacy Update: Conservatives ask Supreme Court to block Evers’ budget vetoes

Conservatives are asking the state Supreme Court to block Governor Tony Evers’ partial vetoes in the 2019-21 state budget.

Only a month after the governor signed the budget, three taxpayers helped by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) are challenging four of the governor’s 72 vetoes:

  • A partial veto which changed an appropriation designated for school buses to fund electric vehicle charging stations.
  •  A partial veto designated for local governments for road improvement to an unrestricted fund.
  • A partial veto which altered the vehicle registration fees for trucks.
  •  A partial veto that expanded the definition of “vapor products” and thereby altered the tax and regulation of those products.

WILL is a conservative, libertarian law firm backed with millions in grants from the far-right school privatization proponent Bradley Foundation. WILL is a member of the right-wing web of so-called “think tanks” that comprise the State Policy Network. (Read more about WILL.) With recent election wins for conservative justices to the Supreme Court, WILL is counting on the Court to land on its side.

The governor’s next step is to determine whether Attorney General Josh Kaul will represent him in the suit, or if he will use a private attorney to push back, as Wisconsin governors for decades have removed words and phrases from budgets to rewrite them. 

Specifically, WILL is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a 1978 decision by the high court that determined governors could use budget vetoes to put in place new policies. WILL may also pursue having the court reverse a 1935 Supreme Court decision to further curtail the veto powers of the governor. Those who have challenged past vetoes have typically lost.