1. True to what had been rumored as part of the agreement to get the budget out of the Senate, Walker used his veto pen to make for an immediate repeal of prevailing wage requirements on highway projects because Walker claims "I object to making the taxpayers of Wisconsin wait for nearly a year before the can begin to benefit from the cost savings" that result from screwing workers further. Because the real problem in this state is that workers are making too much (slams head on desk).
2. There is a common theme of "gimme what I said I wanted in this budget!" This includes Walker putting a $500,000 limit on awards for the Historic Rehab Tax Credit, despite huge usage throughout the state. It also includes Walker removing 5 positions from the State's Elections Commission (even though the Elections Commission indicated they needed the staff), and Walker getting rid of the Educational Approval Board, which oversees private colleges and universities in the state (a nice check from Betsy DeVos is sure to follow).
3. Walker's vetoes consistenttly remove oversight and reports that the Legislature tried to put upon him. The worst of these involves Walker's veto of a requirement put in by the Joint Finance Committee that required them to be notified of any transfers being made out of the Veterans Homes account to try to fill in budget holes in the Veterans Trust Fund. The Walker Administration has taken tens of millions of dollars out of the Homes in the last few years, and it has become all the more disturbing in light of the deteriorating conditions at King Veterans Home, including water that looked like this.
Walker vetoed the Legislature's desire to at leat OK the transfers before they happen, claiming
I object to the creation of a series of additional mandated reports which are administratively burdensome and redirects valuable staff time away from care for veterans. Further, I believe these requirements encroach on the executive branch's responsibility to manage state agency programs within the statutes and funding levels set by the Legislature.Actually Scotty, you haven't been able to handle things "within statutes and funding levels," or else you wouldn't be raiding money that was intended to go to the Veterans' Homes to bail out your budget problems.
Walker also removed oversight in topics ranging from refusing to submit reports to illustrate the outcomes of his "pee in a cup" welfare "reforms" and the costs to continue those measures, and he refused to allow additional reports on costs and progress relating to the state's new STAR portal for human resources and finances, as well as information about whether Wisconsinites were being charged excessive fees compared to the cost of services.
4. There's also some pork projects that got stripped out with these vetoes. They include Legislature-added projects such as $1 million for unknown work in the basement of the Capitol, DOT projects enumerating work to expand I-94 in St. Croix County, and Highway 154 in Sauk County. But one other pork project did not get Walker's axe.
One item @GovWalker didn't veto was $4 million for the Wisconsin Rapids airport near golf course developed by mega-GOP donor Mike Keiser— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) September 20, 2017
Hey, at least Scotty stays bought. You gotta give him that.
5. The worst of the vetoes involves Walker deciding not to give any relief to rural schools. The largest of this set of 3 vetoes is the removal of a provision that would districts limited by low tax bases to spend more money to get closer to parity to the rest of the state. Walker instead is choosing to rely on an election-year talking point of "lower property taxes" over actually helping these schools get by.
I am vetoing this section entirely because the result is a substantial increase in property tax capacity that school districts may exercise without voter input. In several school districts that would be eligible to raise taxes under these sections, referenda to exceed revenue limits already failed within the past two years. An increase in revenue authority from the state in these districts would circumvent purposeful, local actions.That won't help the small schools that are suffering today, and even Joint Finance Committee co-chair John Nygren was unhappy with Walker's veto.
It should also be noted that in some cases, the same districts that would have become eligible to increase their revenues with this adjustment have increased their base revenues at a rate higher than the state average. This brings into question the need for this adjustment and highlights the need for local taxpayer input before a revenue limit adjustment is made.
As a result of this veto, the low revenue adjustment level for school districts will remain at $9,100. School districts across the state will benefit from other significant education investments in this budget, including meaningful increases in per pupil aid. These per pupil increases are equal among all school districts. Additionally, school districts could pursue an increase in their revenue limit through a referendum as is the case under current law. In fact, numerous districts have already done so by asking taxpayers through a referendum. Increases to the low revenue adjustment can be discussed in future state budgets.
I am severely disappointed in Governor Walker’s decision to reject an opportunity to correct a long-term inequity in our K12 funding system.— John Nygren (@rep89) September 20, 2017
As a result, over 200 school districts across the state will lose over $90 million in funding over the next 6 years.— John Nygren (@rep89) September 20, 2017
In theory John, you could do something to deal with that. I think they call it an "override". Let's see if the GOP-run Legislature steps up to regain some control over this budget, or if they let Walker continue to enjoy a lack of accountability and continue to allow the schools in their districts to suffer.
Lots more to get to, but I got a Brewers game to wrap up and $1 Old Fashioneds tomorrow. Feel free to dig in and see what else you find.