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OTHER WISCONSIN VOICES: State Democrats may ruin chance for real reform

The good news is that the "Frankenstein" veto is almost dead. The bad news is that the Democrats who control the Wisconsin Senate might get cute and jeopardize everything.

The good news is that the "Frankenstein" veto is almost dead. The bad news is that the Democrats who control the Wisconsin Senate might get cute and jeopardize everything.

Some of the Democrats are floating a scheme to support a ban on the "Frankenstein" veto -- but only if their guy, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, gets special permission to continue wielding this abusive power for several more years.

The Democrats should remember that their 18-15 majority in the Wisconsin Senate is relatively narrow. Losing just two Senate seats in next year's fall elections would cost their party control.

And voters are not going to take kindly to juvenile, partisan game-playing when it comes to something so obviously in need of fixing -- and something so close to finally being fixed.

The "Frankenstein" veto is an embarrassing abomination for Wisconsin. It has allowed the state's most recent governors, Democrats and Republicans, way too much power.

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Using the "Frankenstein" veto, governors can actually "veto" into law policy changes and spending hikes never approved by lawmakers. This flies in the face of the dictionary definition of a veto, which is supposed to be a power that blocks or minimizes something from happening.

Instead, governors have used this power to unilaterally do almost whatever they want with spending bills -- no legislative approval required.

They accomplish this by crossing out with their veto pen hundreds of words and figures in spending bills, leaving behind bits and pieces that are stitched together like Frankenstein's monster to create sentences from scratch.

The Assembly overwhelmingly gave its final approval to banning the "Frankenstein" veto earlier this year. And a majority of state senators have co-sponsored the ban -- all but assuring final passage on the Senate floor.

Yet Democrats who control the Senate might hold the ban hostage to an outrageous demand -- that the ban not apply to Doyle. The Democrats are contemplating delaying the start date of the ban to 2011, when Doyle's term ends.

That would be wrong. And it better not happen because it could cause Senate Republicans to bolt from the ban, which they now unanimously support.

The proposed ban has come too far to fail now. Because the ban is a constitutional amendment, two consecutive Legislatures must approve it before a statewide referendum is held.

Now that Doyle has won re-election, the Democrats shamelessly want their guy exempted from the ban.

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All of this should make one thing perfectly clear to voters: If the "Frankenstein" veto lives on, the blame will fall squarely on the Senate Democrats.

And if they do screw up this good-government reform just as it is about to finally pass, the Senate Democrats should pay a painful price at the polls next year.

-- Wisconsin State Journal,

Madison

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