Tony Evers Used a Creative Line-Item to Change Education Funding for 400 Years

  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers used a creative veto to secure more funding for public education.
  • The Democrat’s move will increase funding for the next 400 years.
  • Republicans in the state derided his decision but they may have little recourse in the interim.

It’s unclear what the year 2425 will hold. But if Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has his way, a record-increase in state funding for education will almost last until then.

On Wednesday, Evers, a Democrat, used a creative line-item veto that would increase funding for public schools for the next 400 years, a flex of the Democrat’s power in a state where he’s often at loggerheads with Republicans.

Evers told reporters that he used his “broad veto authority to provide school districts with predictable long term increases for the foreseeable future,” according to The Capital Times, which is based in Madison, the state’s capital. 

Evers’ veto means that the state limit on how much school districts can “raise through the combination of state aid and local property taxes” would increase $325 per student each year through 2425, per the Capital Times. 

Evers was able to make the nearly 400-year-old addition by vetoing part of a phrase that had referred to the 2024-25 school year, by striking a hyphen and the “20.” When read together, the legislature’s previous proposals for the 2023-24 and the 2024-25 school years became 2023-2425.

Wisconsin is one of 44 states where a governor has at least line-item veto power, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Such authority, which the president of the United States does not have, allows a governor the ability to cut just part of a proposal without vetoing the entirety of it. It is immensely powerful, especially when used at the end of a session where legislatures may struggle to come up with the necessary numbers needed to override a veto. 

Republicans are clearly not happy.

“Wisconsin property taxpayers will also bear the burden of Gov. Evers veto regarding per-pupil school funding,”  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement. “By allowing this level into the future, homeowners will experience a massive property tax increase in the coming years.”

Evers vetoed bills at a historic pace during his first term as governor. He defended that record before he was reelected during the 2022 midterms.

“My vetoes reflect my belief system,”Evers told Wisconsin Public Radio. “I think people understand that part of my job going forward, again, the next four years, will be to be that goalie. And to prevent bad legislation from becoming law.”

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