Gov.-elect Tony Evers said he “will take any steps possible” to prevent Republican lawmakers from removing key powers from his new administration.
Republican lawmakers are to hold a hearing Monday on a sweeping plan to weaken his authority. Both chambers could vote to approve the measures Tuesday.
“I view this as a repudiation of the last election. I will take any steps possible to assure the people of Wisconsin that I will not invalidate those votes,” Evers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview Saturday. “And frankly, I’m encouraging citizens across the state of Wisconsin to help me in that effort.”
Following the defeat of Gov. Scott Walker in the Nov. 6 election, Republican lawmakers have put forward a slate of legislation that would provide more power to the state Legislature and prevent Evers from having authority over key areas of state government.
In Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, Evers said the efforts by the GOP-led Legislature are an attempt to change the result of the gubernatorial election.
“We had 2.6 million people in the state of Wisconsin voting in the election and they thought very carefully about that vote,” Evers said. “This special session bill will take us to a place where people in Wisconsin will feel their vote has not been counted.”
The sweeping legislation would also limit early voting and move Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential primary at a cost of some $7 million in an effort to make it easier for conservative Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly to win his contest that year.
Another provision could allow Republican lawmakers to prevent the state from getting out of a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, something Evers has promised to do.
The legislation would also restrict Evers’ power over rules used to implement state laws and limit his flexibility in how he runs many public benefits programs.
Republican legislative leaders say the plan will re-balance power between the legislative and executive branches — a dynamic they say was tipped in Walker’s favor by their own action. In the 2010 election, the party gained full control of state government.
“Maybe we made some mistakes giving too much power to Gov. Walker and I’d be open to looking at that to see if there are areas we should change that,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters a day after the general election.
Their plan would provide more legislative authority over state agencies and remove key powers from Evers and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. GOP leaders said the plan prevents Evers from undoing laws passed under Republican control.
Evers said the GOP plan goes far beyond simply protecting past Republican policies and attempts to prevent the decision by voters to elect Democrats to state offices from becoming reality.
“Frankly, it’s another embarrassment for the state of Wisconsin,” Evers told the Journal Sentinel. “The people of the state certainly indicated we needed to move beyond rancor and politics as usual. And what is the first thing that’s happened? Rancor and politics as usual. I don’t think the people of this state will take this well.”
When asked if he would consider legal action against the plan if lawmakers move forward, Evers said, “Everything’s on the table.”
“We’re exploring options — all of them,” Evers said. “But we hope not to take them. We hope legislators will rethink their strategy.”