Wisconsin Republicans Ready to Rein in Executive Branch Following Democrats’ Victories
Democrat Tony Evers told his supporters, “It’s time for a change, folks,” when he accepted their cheers after winning the highest office in the land of Wisconsin.
“I will be focused on solving problems, not on picking political fights,” Evers added on election night.
Well, good luck with that. Since Republican Gov. Scott Walker is on his way out, and Evers is on his way in, GOP legislative leaders couldn’t agree more. It is time for a change, they say. But it isn’t the change Evers wants. Republicans believe it’s time to rein in the power of the executive branch.
Evers’ victory gave Wisconsin Democrats a hold on real power in state government for the first time in six years. It also brought to an end what the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel described as an “eight-year reign of Republican dominance and political muscle.”
There will be a real power shift come Jan. 7.
Voters re-elected Democrat Doug La Follette as secretary of State. Sarah Godlewski, another Democrat, won the state treasurer’s race, and Democrat Mandela Barnes will be sworn in as Wisconsin’s new lieutenant governor in January.
But Republicans will still control the legislature. That means several of Evers’ campaign goals such as Act 10, the law that limits union powers and pushed Gov. Walker onto the national GOP stage, will be close to impossible to accomplish.
If Republicans can limit executive branch powers, Evers’ task will be even tougher.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) wants a special session of the legislature before Evers takes office Jan. 7 to discuss his idea of limiting the governor’s power.
Vos said he knows Evers’ agenda and wants to make sure the Wisconsin Legislature — and Republicans — are “at the table.”
“I also am not going to sit idly by and let him repeal Act 10 by executive action alone, or to try to undermine voter ID, or say that people on welfare don’t have to work,” Vos told the Journal Times. “I want to make sure that, if any of those changes happen, that we’re at the table negotiating and it’s not just him dictating.”
The idea of calling a special legislative session didn’t begin with Evers’ victory. The Associated Press reported Republicans already wanted to meet before the end of the year to talk about putting a $100 million incentive package in front of Kimberly-Clark Corp. as part of a campaign to save about 500 jobs in Appleton, Wis.
Evers said Vos’ proposal to add several items to the agenda aimed at limiting executive power in Wisconsin amount to “playing politics before I take the oath of office.”
“This is a complete violation of the separation of powers in our system,” Evers said. “There is a lot of common ground we can find. But I will not tolerate desperate antics to cling to power and violate the checks and balances of Wisconsin’s government.”