By TODD RICHMOND
ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Gov. Scott Walker left the state budget largely intact, using his powerful veto pen to issue only 50 changes before signing it into law Sunday.
The lack of changes — Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle made 81 vetoes in the 2009-11 budget — indicate Republicans who control the Legislature handed the governor most of what he wanted as they revised the two-year, $66 billion budget.
Most of the vetoes are technical in nature.
Walker’s administration estimated the vetoes will save at least $10,000 by eliminating plans for a Wisconsin Aerospace Authority website, although his aides haven’t fully analyzed a provision requiring public employees to wait five years before becoming vested in the state retirement system.
Here’s a look at some of Walker’s vetoes:
— Eliminated a provision that would have allowed fired Milwaukee police officers to go on collecting pay during the appeal process. The governor said in his veto message to lawmakers the move should be debated as a separate bill.
— Eliminated a plan to tax snuff tobacco by weight rather than price. Health groups had pushed for the veto, saying the tax change would have made chewing tobacco cheaper and more attractive to children. Walker agreed in his veto message.
— Wiped out $10,000 for the aerospace authority’s website. The authority is working to develop spaceports in Wisconsin. Walker said he objected to earmarking the money without further explanation.
— Eliminated plans to allow bail bondsmen to do business in Wisconsin. Republican lawmakers said the move would help the state’s courts run more efficiently and reduce administrative costs, but Walker said the idea hasn’t been thoroughly vetted and should be considered as separate legislation.
— Erased a requirement that the state Department of Natural Resources produce a report on the economic impact of the agency’s tough new phosphorus pollution limits by the end of the year. Walker, who had proposed delaying the limits for two years, said the deadline would force the DNR to rush its report and the agency should take its time evaluating the rules’ impact.
— Eliminated a requirement that child care providers must submit to fingerprinting. The governor called the requirement an unnecessary burden for day cares. Providers in the troubled Wisconsin Shares program, though, must submit fingerprints.
— Required state and local public employees to work for at least five years before they can become vested in the state retirement system. The Legislature’s version of the budget would have allowed employees who leave their jobs with less than five years of service to become partially vested. Current state law allows public employees to become vested immediately. Walker said 25 other states use a five-year waiting period and the change will encourage people to work for the government longer.
— Eliminated a provision that would have required anyone who wants to view a politician’s economic interest statement to come to Madison and view the documents in person at the Government Accountability Board. Currently, people can access the documents electronically. Walker said the in-person requirement violates the “principles of transparency and open government that are fundamental to public oversight and a key tenet of my administration.”
— Eliminated a July 1, 2013 deadline for the state Department of Administration to disclose spending by state agencies and on state contracts and grants on the Internet. Walker said DOA needs flexibility to meet the requirement.