October 30, 2007

Governor Doyle does his Frankenstein routine.

Speaking of taxes, we've got a little something here in Wisconsin called the Frankenstein veto. Look what Governor Doyle just did with it:




The Wisconsin State Journal editorializes:

Wisconsin governors, both Democrats and Republicans, deserve strong veto powers to remove pork and policy from state budgets. But they shouldn't be allowed to unilaterally create laws from scratch that the Legislature never approved or even imagined.

Doyle made a couple of "Frankenstein" vetoes Friday. The most significant one nearly doubled the allowable increase in municipal property tax levies to 3.86 percent....

Doyle himself opposed the "Frankenstein" veto as a gubernatorial candidate. Then he won election and completely changed his position for short-term political advantage.

Wisconsin has suffered enough lame excuses and embarrassing hypocrisy from both major political parties on this issue. It's time for [Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston,] and the Democratic-run Senate to take the high road and approve this good-government reform for the benefit of all.
I hope I can, by this post, increase the pressure of embarrassment on the Wisconsin government.

52 comments:

Simon said...

If I snark "remind us again how wonderful the line item veto is, Governor Romney," someone's going to mistake that for me taking a position on the merits, aren't they...

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Why do I have to guess what party Doyle belongs to? A very NY Times kind of move.

In any case, it looks like I guessed right: Wisconsin — Governor: James Doyle, Jr. (D)!!!

Balfegor said...

That's so wrong. And yet hilarious. So utterly shameless it makes me laugh.

Original Mike said...
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MadisonMan said...

A government that was almost 4 months late with a budget is pretty much beyond shaming.

Justin said...

So what's the procedure here? Is the bill now signed into law? Or does it have to go back to the legislature to approve the vetoed lines?

MadisonMan said...

And I'll add on the subject of this particular "veto": State and National politicians and pundits will hold this up as an example of -- well, I'm not sure what. But these politicians tell local municipalities to do things and then don't give them money to fund them. Shouldn't local governments be allowed to raise taxes as they see fit? Why is the state trying so hard to control things at the local level?

MadisonMan said...

justin: the legislature can't override this particular kind of veto.

The Governor has raised Line Item Veto-ing to an art form -- Tommy Thompson must be proud! The Legislature has not yet acquired the ability to write line-item resistant funding bills.

Wurly said...
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Balfegor said...

The Governor has raised Line Item Veto-ing to an art form -- Tommy Thompson must be proud! The Legislature has not yet acquired the ability to write line-item resistant funding bills.

How much can you really do when the governor is cherry picking individual numbers and assembling new numbers out of them. I mean, next it'll be letters:

The Governor has raised Line Item Veto-ing to an art form -- Tommy Thompson must be proud! The Legislature has not yet acquired the ability to write line-item resistant funding bills.

Justin said...

MadisonMan said...

justin: the legislature can't override this particular kind of veto.

Wow. This gives the governor extraordinary power. If the legislature passes a long enough bill, the governor can veto it into saying whatever he wants.

I think this goes beyond the "line-item" veto. To avoid this abuse, the veto power should have been more restrictively defined so that the executive must veto an entire line, not just a part of a line. Then add to that a restriction on the legislature forcing them to include only one action per line. That should stop the worst of the abuses.

rhhardin said...

Why stick to words? There's letters to be isolated.

MadisonMan said...

That should stop the worst of the abuses.

The Governor vetoes with the laws he has, not the laws we wish he had.

The sad part is that the good idea of the line item veto will probably get washed away in the outrage over abuses that are due to a poorly-written law. Who was the original author of the law, I wonder.

Balfegor said...

To avoid this abuse, the veto power should have been more restrictively defined so that the executive must veto an entire line, not just a part of a line.

I'm not sure "line" is all that susceptible to definition. Maybe "clause." I would say "sentence," except then the legislature would just put everything into one run-on sentence.

I'm also a little reluctant to go for the "one action per line" idea, because analogous restrictions have been used to shut down attempts at reform through the petition process in other states. You'd have the losing side of every contentious vote going to the courts to argue that the legislative provisions as enacted included more than one action per line, and that gives the courts more power over the legislative process than I think they should have.

Eli Blake said...

Either the Governor can line-item veto or he can't.

And this is nothing new, nor is it unique to Governors. Last year we had a state legislator in Arizona who almost snuck in a bill that would have gutted our clean elections act by using a 'strike all' amendment on what would have been a noncontroversial and routine legislative vote on judicial pensions. Someone caught it in the nick of time and a number of bloggers put the word out, and the legislation was defeated.

To be honest, I've never been sanguine about line-item vetoes at either the state or Federal level-- I tend to prefer a strong legislative body to a strong executive-- even though for example here in Arizona, I think we have a wonderful Governor (and one who in a recent poll had only a nine percent disapproval rating) and a terrible legislature. I still prefer just as a gut instinct that the legislature have more power than the executive.

And Ann-- have you changed your voter registration yet? If not, you have more power to affect change in Madison than if you have. Maybe you will have to start paying attention to what happens in Albany.

Eli Blake said...

And I guess it's now clear what the Governor is wearing for Halloween.

Jim Hu said...

I thought that Wisconsin had changed the rules years ago after Tommy Thompson (R; this is bipartisan practice IIRC) did similar shenanigans characterized as the "Vanna White veto". But in this case and the one from last year, Doyle seems to be using individual digits to make up new numbers.

Was there a loophole for numbers?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

It's time ... to take the high road and approve this good-government reform for the benefit of all.
I can't wait to see what the good-government reform bill looks like after the governor is finished with it!

Jim Hu said...

More thoughts on this on my blog. Excerpt:
There are a number of possible solutions. The most entertaining would be for the legislature to work harder on drafting the texts in order to constrain the possible edited meanings (start by eliminating numeric subheadings!). Bring in Will Shortz to find staff who can rewrite bills that can handcuff the governor. The governor, of course, would respond by hiring his own word-game experts.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I moved my business and family out of Wisconsin ten years ago because even back then, even under Thompson, it was one of the worst states in the nation for taxation -- at all levels.

Nothing new in the Doyle story, except the mechanics.

reader_iam said...

Why is the state trying so hard to control things at the local level?

I don't know--why is the federal government trying so hard to control things at the state level?

Power to the fewer(-est), baby: power to the elites.

Pogo said...
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Pogo said...

If Iowans had even the slightest common sense, they would lower taxes drastically and become a tax haven. Even if only done by cities along its perimeter, they would capture sufficient flight by people who want to live near but not in high tax states.

But folks raised on the Marxist zero-sum game approach cannot even conceive of wealth actually Increasing for all, and thereby augment revenues. They only have their limited economics knowldedge, mostly fallacious, that dividing a pie is all that takes place with such chicanery as Doyle's.

Original Mike said...

Pogo said: If Iowans had even the slightest common sense, they would lower taxes drastically and become a tax haven. Even if only done by cities along its perimeter, they would capture sufficient flight by people who want to live near but not in high tax states.

I hope they listen to you, Pogo. I am beginning to consider where to live in retirement. The countryside around Dubuque is really quite nice.

Ann, I do not believe politicians are capable of embarrassment.

reader_iam said...

I would not hold my breath, if I were you, for a number of reasons.

Signed,

Currently an Iowa resident

Simon said...

reader_iam said...
"[Why is the state trying so hard to control things at the local level?] I don't know--why is the federal government trying so hard to control things at the state level?"

Whenever there are politicians who feel the need to be seen to "do something" about a given problem, I suspect, they will try to seize control of and micromanage whatever assets are needed to be seen to be doing something about the problem. Perfect example: the Gun Free Schools Act, where faced with a legitimate problem that could, should (and to an extent was being) addressed by states and LEAs, Congress decided that the test for whether Congress can and should intervene is how serious a problem it is (or to be more honest, how many votes were in it). Another example: which of the Presidential candidates have answered a question about healthcare by saying "healthcare? Do I look like I'm running for Governor? Why are you talking to me about state issues?" None of them have because they want to pander: the electorate perceives a problem, and the candidates want to turn that into a propellant for their campaign.

reader_iam said...

And, of course, Iowa taxes pensions and social security income.

Original Mike said...

Thanks for the info, reader_iam. Guess I'll keep looking for a state who wants me.

Original Mike said...

And, of course, Iowa taxes pensions and social security income.

There are states that don't?

Pogo said...

Since the mid-1960s, the federal tax share of GDP has been around 17.5-20% (peaks hit in 1944 and 2001 at 20.9%).

The total combination of federal, state, and local taxes hit an all-time high of 30.1% in 2000, above the 27.8% spent during the rest of 1990s. The modern US historical average is around 27.3%.

2006 Eurostat data reveal that taxes in the EU account for 39.3% of GDP. "Central and northern EU countries tend to have the highest tax burdens. Sweden is number one at 50.5 percent, followed by Denmark (48.8 percent), Belgium (45.2 percent) and Finland (44.3 percent). Other notables include France (43.4 percent), Italy (40.6 percent), and the United Kingdom (36.0 percent)."

While a certain level of social welfare is desirable, at some point the economic burden threatens prosperity. Wealthy nations can easily tolerate the consumption of 30% of its economic output by the state, as is currently true in the US, “but once the government take approaches 50 percent, as in many of the nations of northern Europe, economic growth begins to suffer.”
Bernstein WJ, The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World as Created; McGraw-Hill New York; 2004 p. 380.

reader_iam said...

original mike: Things change, and I am not an accountant, financial advisor, or tax attorney. Also, the following link contains information as of 2005. With those caveats, see this summary table, which addresses which states include pensions and/or social security in taxable income, and which do not as of 2005.

Superdad said...

Just remeber this is not a "line item veto" it is a partial veto. The difference is obvious. If you veto an item then it is out of the bill completely; if you can veto a part of an item you get to write new laws. So using this as a reason to not support the line item veto the Cong. Paul Ryan has authered, which requires each item that is vetoed to go back to congress for an up or down vote, or the line item veto that Romney likes is a bit off the mark.

The thing that Doyle has done that has never been done before is to use the partial veto to increase spending. Tommy was pretty dang creative but he never increased spending with his veto.

Original Mike said...

Illinois. Pension & deferred Comp. not taxable.

Hmmm. I seem to remember that Galena is nice.

Thanks, reader.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Progressives love it when judges create laws from scratch, so why not let the executive branch get in on the act?

Wurly said...
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Original Mike said...

Wurly: Thanks for the info. But, surely Delware must like some Third World country. After all, how can politicians provide prosperity without high taxes?

Pogo said...

Mike,
Delaware is doing what New Jersey once did, stealing residents from nearby states by having a lower tax rate.

But they forgot where all the dough came from and inexorably voted themselves more of it. Including a tax on all sate residents that only went to support the larger cities, so you couldn't even avoid that by moving to the burbs.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Delaware is certainly surrounded by third world countries: Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington.

AlphaLiberal said...

Funnmy how the Wisconsin State Journal and Ann Althouse were silent when Tommy Thompson perfected the art of the "Frankenstein veto."

I support changing it, but going further than the WSJ goes.

But that's a nice use of the veto, at any rate. Thanks, Jim!

reader_iam said...

Wurly:

Delaware (where I lived for 25 years, until1996, have close relatives on both sides, decamp to each summer, and have had a company incorporated since 1989 or '90) does have a state income tax, I can assure you, unless it's been repealed recently and everyone's in such shock they forgot to mention it to us. That's a little hard to believe, however, since we're being lobbied hard to move back.

reader_iam said...

I can't tell you how much I would LOVE it if I'm wrong, and you're right, though.

The no-sales tax thing is handy--just have to remember to bring an extra suitcase every year for the school clothes and leave extra space in the vehicle for larger items purchased during summer.

reader_iam said...

original mike: Well, the joke back in the day when I lived in New Castle County (Newark) was that "(S)lower Delaware" was another world from Northern Delaware.

Based on my visits to and through the lower parts of the state each over the past several years, and all that development etc. etc. etc., that joke's a bit on the thin side.

Wurly said...
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Superdad said...

Alpha Liberal: Of course Althouse was silent when Tommy was gov. There was no Althouse blog then.

Simon said...

Superdad - [guffaw]. Pwned.

Pogo said...

But she would have been silent!!!
Maybe.

Bissage said...

What’s all the hubbub over the Frankenstein Veto, anyway?

Seems okay to me.

Maybe a little long.

But still, nice pants!

Bissage said...

Oh crap!

I thought you all were talking about the Frankenstein video.

Never mind.

Real Debate said...

ong, the legislature can overide the veto based on a 2/3 vote.

Democrats in Wisconsin have no will to over-ride the veto.

In short it could be done but it will not be done.

Steven said...

Individual letters won't happen because that used to happen, and the laws were changed to forbid it. Individual numerals still happen because the rules were not changed to forbid it.

MadisonMan said...

In short it could be done but it will not be done.

The Republicans wouldn't override either -- both parties just spent 115 days or something like that too long passing the budget. The idea that they'd go back to square 1? Doyle's not exactly popular, but the Legislature is even less so and having no budget (that was due 1 July) AGAIN would just cement their lowly position.

Revenant said...

MadisonMan,

How will overriding the veto cause the whole process to "start over again"? Wouldn't the effect of overriding the veto simply be to re-insert the vetoed sections back into the law again?

If so, the state would never be without a budget. It would just operate under the mangled version that just passed until the override version kicks in later.