State News

Critics say Walker’s budget negotiations broke state rules

The deals Walker made in order to pass the months-overdue two-year budget are being called into question by opponents.

Image By: Betsy Osterberger and Betsy Osterberger

Gov. Scott Walker used 99 partial vetoes to appease a handful of senators who were stalling the passage of the state’s 2017-'19 budget, but some critics are saying Walker’s negotiations went so far as to break state laws.

A state court ruling on the type of negotiations officials in the Legislature can and can’t make is unprecedented. Critics are calling Walker’s deals to pass the budget logrolling: when a politician votes on another politician's legislation in exchange for a favor that usually benefits their home district.

Although lawmakers are allowed to make deals and negotiate with each other, they are not allowed to logroll.

Aides to the senators that Walker worked with in the final hours before the budget’s passage said no rules were broken.

The governor and the senators holding up a vote were transparent with the public throughout the process, Mike Mikalsen, an aide to Sen. Steven Nass, R-Whitewater, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Sens. Nass, Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, released what their agreements were to get their approval of the budget once the budget was signed into law.

Along with the vetoes, Walker created a new position to overlook the Department of Transportation — a state agency that has had oversight issues in the past and whose funding was one of the primary reasons of the budget stalemate.

Since Walker agreed to the vetoes and created a new position, which is an executive order, critics say his actions qualify as making deals on several pieces of legislation — which falls in the category of logrolling.

However, there is no law that says governors can’t negotiate on budgets and executive orders. Additionally, the executive order was not a part of the deal with the senators, Walker spokesman Tom Evenson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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