Tony Evers says it will take a lawsuit to get him to go along with lame-duck legislation

MADISON – Incoming Gov. Tony Evers signaled Wednesday he would not go along with parts of lame-duck laws that curb his powers, suggesting that GOP lawmakers or their supporters would have to sue him over the issue.

“I’m anticipating most of the provisions will be challenged and I’m guessing I will be a defendant rather than a plaintiff,” Evers said in an interview Wednesday at his transition office.

Governor-elect Tony Evers is shown during an interview Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 in Madison, Wis.
Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Democrat’s stance changes the dynamic in the fight over the lame-duck legislation by prodding Republicans into initiating litigation instead of doing so himself.

In the interview, Evers also provided glimpses of the budget he will introduce in the coming months, saying he would look to expand health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act; allow illegal immigrants to qualify for driver’s cards; give immigrants who came to the state illegally as children the chance to pay in-state tuition; and allow property taxes to rise by more than they have in the past.

In addition, Evers is considering letting local government increase sales taxes.

Evers, who will be sworn in Monday, said he remains bothered by lame-duck legislation lawmakers and departing Gov. Scott Walker approved in the weeks after Evers narrowly defeated Walker.

He suggested he wouldn’t go along with parts of those wide-ranging measures but wouldn’t specify which ones. The new laws limit his authority over state rules, require him to get permission from lawmakers to adjust public benefits programs and diminish his say over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Evers likened the situation to attempts by Walker and GOP lawmakers to chip into his authority over state rules as the state schools superintendent. Allies of Evers sued and won before the state Supreme Court the first time Republicans tried to diminish his powers. A second lawsuit over the issue — this one brought by Evers’ opponents — is now before the state’s high court.

“Having gone through this in my previous job as state superintendent, I think it’s more likely that I will be sued because I’m now the chief executive of the state,” Evers said of a potential legal fight over the lame-duck legislation “Same thing happened when I was state superintendent — I was sued. So that’s where I anticipate most of the action to be.”


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