Venkata: The lame duck that swam

Outgoing Wisconsin governor and legislators have hobbled their incoming Democrat replacements — at the state’s expense.

by Uma Venkata

The Gophers took the Badgers’ axe away, but the state of Wisconsin is managing to chop their own house down just fine without it.

Republicans in Wisconsin’s post-midterm, outgoing legislature are deliberately stripping the state’s governorship and attorney general office of their traditional powers. The dramatic changes, which were defined in five bills, were drafted in secret. They were presented for public consideration at the Joint Finance Committee for one day total on Monday. No Democrat voted in favor of this sweeping reduction in powers, but it passed.

Now, among other things, the Wisconsin governor is barred from previous traditional say in state agencies. Republican legislators can also intercede in legal cases on the attorney general’s desk and hire their own attorneys instead of the Wisconsin state attorney.

It just so happens that both the incoming Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul are Democrats who hold positions that support early voting and marrying economic and environmental responsibility. These two issues do not seem to be in the interest of Wisconsin GOP.

Early voting tends to increase the minority voter turnout in places like Madison and Milwaukee, which the Republican party would apparently like to avoid — in a legal brief, this can be used as evidence of voter suppression. The Wisconsin GOP has recently pushed the Chinese electronics giant Foxconn’s entry into the state. So far, this has cost taxpayers $4.5 billion in subsidies, suspended a significant amount of environmental regulation and predicts grim prospects for Wisconsin employment and fiscal growth. I encourage you to read the deal that Gov. Scott Walker cut with Foxconn and its economic prognostics and infer for yourself whether this is truly in favor of all Wisconsinites.

Let’s step back and think about this. This is more than just party politics — this is cheating the system. Regarding social safety nets such as welfare, I have often heard the argument that people will use the system when they don’t really need to. This is also cheating. I have met people who do this.

I have also met many, many more people who collect government benefits because they have truly no other choice. When the government spends, it should be for the people it governs. When a government makes choices about labor, voting and health, those decisions should be in favor of the many, not the few.

The behavior of Walker and his party friends in Madison has not reflected this.

In their lame-duck session, Wisconsin Republicans are robbing Wisconsin voters of their decision-making ability, stripping the governor of his governing power and denying the state a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people.