We’ll start with this column from longtime Capitol reporter Steven Walters, who noted that GOP legislators felt emboldened after their gerrymander held in the 2018 elections, even as Dems won statewide.
Consider this: If you’re a Madison Democrat and mad as hell at the GOP’s power grab, is there any way you can punish a Republican legislator for last week’s power grab? No. Why? The only names on your Madison ballot will be unopposed Democrats in November 2020.In addition, Walters says that the GOP thinks they can weaken Evers and bully him in a way that makes the new Governor lose the public’s support.
That’s because November 2020 will be the last time Republican legislators run in districts they drew in 2011 – districts that have been very, very good to them. More certain than ever that they will get re-elected in 2020, Republican leaders secretly drafted their package of bills to give the legislative branch more authority at the expense of Evers and Kaul.
..GOP leaders like Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have never considered Evers their political equal in take-no-prisoners Capitol wars. So, they thought he would struggle to offer a quick response to their rewrite of the rules of governing.So yeah, don’t count on a lot of harmony and honest problem-solving from the monumental egos of both Vos and Fitz in the next 2 years. Basically, they will be taking a page out of Mitch McConnell playbook from 2009-2012.
After all, Evers had a “Tony too nice” reputation. He served as state superintendent of public instruction since 2009 and, before that, was a school district administrator. Evers didn’t become a Capitol power player until he won the August primary to challenge Walker.
Urban Milwaukee editor Bruce Murphy then jumped off of Walters’ column to produce some of his own analysis of last week’s Power Grab.
Walker and Vos told Walters they “didn’t include some of the most radical steps they had considered. That not-so-subtle message is: ‘It could have been worse.’”
But that was only because they knew they couldn’t get away with it. They dropped their plan to move the date of the 2010 presidential election only after it came out that would cost taxpayers $6.8 million and after county clerks across the state and the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Board opposed three straight months of elections as practically impossible to administer. As for trying to cut back the governor’s veto, which Republicans say they were too nice to include, there is a long history of court cases in Wisconsin upholding this powerful veto power.
Evers ran on a platform of increasing state funding to K-12 schools, and Vos has already made it clear the legislature won’t approve this. Evers wants to provide more health care coverage, but Republicans will oppose his plan to accept the more than $1 billion in federal Medicaid money Walker rejected. And the lame duck legislation prevents Evers and Kaul from opting out of the lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act and its coverage of pre-existing conditions. (the one that a goofy Texass judge just used to strike down the ACA for the short term) Vos would likely work with Evers to increase highway funding, but an increase in such funding will make more funding for schools all the more impossible.
Meanwhile Evers will find it harder to reshape state agencies to serve the public as he sees fit, because they must comply with onerous documentation requirements added by the new legislation. Even should this be accomplished, the law also gives the legislature far more power to block any rules promulgated by state agencies and bars judges from giving deference to agencies’ interpretations of laws when challenged in court.
As for Kaul, the legislation takes away his solicitor general, which leaves him less ability to pursue high profile legal suits, and takes away his power to determine how funds won through court cases are distributed — something attorney generals of both parties have used to win favor with voters. Republicans have done everything they could think of to make it harder to Evers and Kaul to govern effectively and win reelection.
Now that the Power Grab bills have been rammed through by the GOP Legislature, Scott Walker’s inevitable approval of these measures cemented the "our rules don't apply to us" mentality of the Wisconsin GOP. Dom Noth noted earlier this week in his People’s World blog that Walker’s cynical lack of action had the result of leaving the opposition to the bill frustrated, as there were multiple fronts to direct their anger and efforts.
What’s happening instead is anger frozen in midair while even national columnists and past governors from both parties sound the alarm. There is this strange paralysis because the basic question – “what do we do now?” – isn’t quite real yet.Until Walker and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was able to give out $28 million in corporate welfare to Kimberly-Clark using unilateral negotiations that Evers won't be able to do under the Lame Duck Bills. Then Scotty was more than happy to sign the bills in their entirety the next day, flying out to Green Bay on short notice in order to duck most Capitol media.
The departing governor is stringing out the possibilities of delay and uncertainty to the bitter end, leaving the public hanging in limbo not sure what to attack and what will remain. Walker is urged by near and not so dear to show his hand, but he seems to enjoy keeping Wisconsin blurry and out of focus.
Noth notes that the WisGOP Legislature’s move to take control of the WEDC Board and the selection of its CEO admits the corruption of that slush fund.
Apparently Evers most scared the willies out of them with his pledge, endorsed by the voters, to dissolve the WEDC (the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation) and create a better Commerce Department. The new bills treat that as an open threat to the oceans of gimmes and giveaways that have rewarded the Republican top corporate donors through this Walker created shell game, which has been stalked by millions of dollars in scandals.Let me end by noting an ominous last part of Walters’ column, which tells me that we must remain vigilant for even more attempted GOP Power Grabs after January 7.
In the new laws, the CEO for WEDC is nominated by the legislature, not the governor; the board members from the legislature are expanded while quorum level is reduced, and the board can give the CEO broader discretion. The WEDC on its own can lift the current restrictions on deals it makes with companies – in other words the entire legislative approach protects the WEDC and invites corruption. Foxconn has been given looser job assurances to require and the governor’s point-person on Foxconn now reports just to the legislature…
The WEDC protection in these laws is being advertised by the GOP as a testing period for the new governor, suggesting neither he nor the voters had a clue about economic development but that the mighty legislature did. This advertised shakeout cruise imposed on the governor bans him from any meaningful say in the WEDC until after September 1. Examine this from the pragmatic side. The legislature has put itself in charge for most of 2019, defying the governor to make changes to their choice of CEO and operations if he is still unhappy next fall. They are telling the governor and the voters that their opinions about WEDC don’t really matter.
Republicans also did not attempt to change how new legislative district lines will be drawn after the 2020 Census. Those lines are drawn in a bill that must be approved by the governor.These gerrymandered GOPs in the Legislature will continue sabotaging and making the Evers Administration appear dysfunctional until they (and their donors) personally pay a price for it.
One rumor: Republicans researched whether new districts could be drawn through a joint resolution the Republican-controlled Legislature would pass – a process that would bypass Evers.
So that price needs to be paid to keep our state moving ahead. To do so, it’s going to require a lot of ReThugs getting slapped back, both rhetorically and politically. That’s true whether the Evers Administration wants to be the bad cop, or if some other groups have to step up to do it.