Wisconsin governor cleverly approves education budget increases for the next 400 years

Originally published at: Wisconsin governor cleverly approves education budget increases for the next 400 years | Boing Boing


No one should have this sort of veto power that can change an already passed bill to say whatever you want it to, but if I had it the first thing I’d do with it is guarantee public education funds.
So, right on. I guess


Yeah I like the change he made to the bill but can scarcely imagine the precedent it would set if courts allow this kind of edit to stand. A future Republican governor could make changes along the lines of

The State of Wisconsin shall not allow discrimination based on race, religion or gender identity


Line item vetoes are crazy, but if this one line item goes through and they close the loophole? Dayenu.

Also, I’ve read the line item in Wisconsin had been handicapped by limits on what could be done by editing letters, but they didn’t think to limit numbers or punctuation. Masterful.


Looks like I’ve been ignorant on what is possible with them. I had always assumed line item veto meant striking a whole clause at a minimum.


Since each one is going to be individual to the state, keeping up with them would be an exercise in madness (I don’t think they’re allowed in most states at the moment though [Edited, 44 states have some kind of line item veto, apologies. Got out over my skis, I’m a kid in a candy store here.]). But apparently the statutes around the Wisconsin line item allowed character level editing, but don’t allow editing words by removing single letters, creating new words by combination, or making deletions to turn one sentence into two. But numbers and punctuation were still fine, presumably so republicans could kneecap programs by vetoing zeroes if they had the governor’s house. Evers, or someone clever on his team, saw that and said, “I’ll take that, think it will be useful.”


Getting this from Josh Chafetz of Georgetown Law on Twitter (I know, I know), but this is text in the WI statute on the line item veto:

“(c) In approving an appropriation bill in part, the govern may not create a new word by rejecting individual letters in th vords of the enrolled bill, and may not create a new sentence by combining parts of 2 or more sentences of the enrolled bill.”


That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Don’t like a number? Make it zero! Even better, make it negative so it has the exact opposite intended effect!


Wisconsin is truly f’d up. They’ve been shafted over by the republicans countless times, to the point where it’s no longer particularly safe to travel there.

My health insurance company’s app has a feature where you can view a map showing prices of various elective procedures. This is to help make a decision about which provider to choose, and if it’s worth it to travel a bit for a better price. An in-network surgical procedure that has an average cost of $2000 in Minnesota has an average cost of about $5900 In Wisconsin.

So if I get sick or injured in Wisconsin, I’m telling the ambulance driver to take me to a hospital across the border. I don’t need to be financially ruined because I got sick in the wrong state.


Even so there’s plenty of room for abuse if (as in my example) a governor could alter or even reverse the meaning of a sentence by simply striking a key word.


In subsequent budgets all numbers will simply be spelled out. The end.

Is 2023 really a number though in this context? It is representstive of a year. If it said 2023 apples that’s clearly a number.


I’m just diving into all this chaos, but I was looking around, and apparently the WI governor did just that in 1975, taking out a “not” in a usage of “not less than 50%.” Walker cut a bunch of words out of a bill in 2011. I never claim to understand Wisconsin, but apparently, the state has been living with an active and seemingly very destructive line-item veto for ages.


Wouldn’t be able to make it negative, because that would be adding text, but you seem to be right that a governor can apparently zero out a budget item with the line item veto. I suppose if the dash is placed in the right place, maybe you could make a number negative…

Wisconsin continues to amaze in horrifying ways…


That’s nuts. How can they even claim to have a democratic system of government when the executive has unilateral authority to edit a bill to do exactly the opposite of what the legislature intended?


The line item veto was passed to allow Republican governors to do this kind of thing and then nerfed when a Democrat won the office. This is Evers working within the nerfed power.


I would say there’s a pretty good chance that the courts will find that a number is a letter for the purposes of this statute, such that removing one digit to change the meaning of the number is not allowed. Still it’s a pretty clever use of the power by the governor.


Bless this man for keeping our state together and the gerrymandered state Senate from absolutely pillaging our state and giving it to their donors.


Years are numbers. It’s a count of years from some X year.

Kind of expected that was the case. The Republicans are always happy to give themselves oodles of power when in charge, then make sure to rescind it the minute a Democrat gets elected into the same role.


Yeah, it seems like a no-brainer since many contracts do the same to hinder tampering. A law should follow the same structure. And will prevent a potential Republican governor from striking money in the future by erasing zeroes.

Consider it a lesson in reading the fine print.

Edit: examples would be “the budget of two million three hundred fifty thousand US dollars ($2,350,000) will be allotted” or “this sum will be paid out in the budget year two thousand twenty three of the Gregorian calendar (2023)”. There’s no reason to be less wordy, it’s a law for the gods’ sakes!

And close the damn loophole. Its value has now been eliminated going forward.


I know that its a count of years elapsed but 2023 could just as easily be called “the year of the Axolotl” or “the year of Jeff” and not lose meaning. The numbering is just for convenience.

Maybe I’m just overthinking it.