Wisconsin leaders, organizations react after Governor Walker signs lame-duck bills

(CBS 58) -- On Friday, Governor Walker signed the lame duck bills at a state office building in Green Bay. The bills would limit some of the powers of incoming Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul. The Governor made no changes to the laws passed by Republican lawmakers before signing. 

Below are how some Wisconsin leaders and organizations are reacting:

Governor-elect Tony Evers

"Today, Governor Walker chose to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin. This will no doubt be his legacy. The people demanded a change on November 6th, and they asked us to solve problems, not pick petty, political fights. The people of Wisconsin expect more from our government than what has happened in our state over the past few weeks.

I’ve said all along that I will put the people of Wisconsin first and work to find common ground. That’s what the people of Wisconsin deserve. We are going to turn our focus to the pressing issues facing our state like fully funding public education, fixing our crumbling roads and bridges, and ensuring health care is affordable and protects people who have pre-existing conditions."

Speaker Vos Statement on Extraordinary Bills Signed into Law

“I would like to thank Governor Walker for signing the extraordinary session proposals into law. Through his actions, he’s acknowledging the importance of the legislature as a co-equal branch of government.

“As Democrats and the media continue to inflate these laws into something they’re not, Assembly Republicans are focusing on the new legislative session and will work to find common ground in divided government.”

Democratic Governors Association Communications Director Jared Leopold

“By signing this shameful and undemocratic legislation, Governor Scott Walker is cementing his legacy of extreme partisanship and divisiveness. This power grab is an assault on democracy – and it will not stand up to legal scrutiny. This is nothing short of an attempt to overrule the will of the voters of Wisconsin.

“In a democracy, you don’t get to change the rules just because you lost. Governor Walker has refused to come to terms with the simple fact that Wisconsin voted for change in November. We urge governors across the country to stand with us in condemning this affront to democracy and gubernatorial responsibility.”

Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh)

“This is a disappointing day after a disappointing eight years. The good news for the people of Wisconsin is Scott Walker will only be Governor for another three weeks. Today cements his legacy of division and a willingness to put politics over the people he was elected to represent.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten and Wisconsin AFT Leaders

AFT President Randi Weingarten said:

“Scott Walker has ended his tenure as governor of Wisconsin exactly as he started it: in a mean-spirited takedown of anyone who dares to disagree with him or his backers. Eight years ago, he stripped the rights of public school teachers and other public employees and, in so doing, made a mess of the state’s public schools and universities. He slashed education spending at every level in favor of tax cuts for big companies. Because Walker has made a career out of putting regular people last, this past November the voters of Wisconsin voted instead for Tony Evers.

“But Walker didn’t stop at dissing workers. Now, he’s dissed the voters too. As he leaves office, he and his fellow Republicans are fixated on maintaining power and defying the people’s will, even if that means handcuffing his successor’s ability to govern and flouting the democratic process. Today, Scott Walker reminded us all who he truly is.”

AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas said:

“Educators across this state rejected Scott Walker’s agenda on Nov. 6, and, today, his parting gift was to remind them that he doesn’t care about them or their vote. He doesn’t care about the $590 cuts in per-pupil funding and the $2 billion cuts to public education funding, which left teachers fleeing the state and rural schools struggling to keep up. Tony Evers vowed to invest in Wisconsin’s schools and Wisconsin’s kids, to protect our healthcare and our early voting rights, yet even after we voted him out of office, Walker is still managing to stand in the way of that promise.”

Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals President Candice Owley said:

“Scott Walker’s legacy won’t just be his attacks on working people. We’ll remember how strongly he supported efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and how he led a lawsuit to allow big insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. He also refused to expand Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, denying care to thousands of Wisconsinites. Today, he showed his true colors again: as a sore loser who wants to strip the governor’s office of any power, simply because he’s not the one occupying it.”

Statement from Nicole Safar, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin:

“In a final power grab before Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul take office, Republican legislators ignored Wisconsin voters’ clear preference for more health care and fairer representation in November. This cynical move strips power from the incoming administration, power that Governor Walker consolidated for himself when his party won elections. Taken together, these bills will make voting more difficult in future elections and override the decision voters made this November – to empower Tony Evers and Josh Kaul and the vision they offered our state.

“PPAWI will continue to mobilize Wisconsin voters, making sure no one forgets how Republican legislators passed these bills as last minute attempt to override the voters in our state. Voters decisively chose Tony Evers and Josh Kaul because their agenda was more health care and expanded opportunity for us all. While the governor-elect and attorney general-elect are focused on working for the people of Wisconsin, Republicans’ actions show that they are out of line with the majority values of our state, and they will stop at nothing to change the rules, ignore the people and make it harder for our new leaders to fight for us and the policies we voted for in November. PPAWI stands with the incoming administration and its efforts to expand health care, fight for fair elections and create healthy communities for us all.”

Senator Chris Larson:

“Scott Walker is leaving the Governorship the same way he arrived: in chaos. Since taking office in 1993, Scott Walker’s appetite for the ‘divide and conquer’ accumulation of power was always clear. In his years in office, he has held back Wisconsin from pursuing more affordable health care by rejecting the Medicaid expansion. He held Wisconsin back from being connected to the rest of the country via high speed modern rail. He stood in the way of grants for high speed internet, refused to invest in homegrown renewable energy, and cut education more than any Governor in the history of our state.
“Never before in our rich 170 year history, has a Governor signed lame duck bills into law that are specifically designed to curtail the power of his successor. These bills are an affront to everyone who voted on November 6th. Now, we will have an incoming Governor whose ability to manage both WEDC and DHS is severely hindered, a Governor who won’t be able to pull us out of the lawsuit that will put people with pre-existing conditions in danger, and a Governor who will be legislatively stopped from fulfilling the central campaign promises Wisconsinites voted for. Now, in his last act in public office, he eschewed any shred of moral courage and instead went along 100% with the bills as given to him despite the fact that there were bipartisan calls for him to veto the entire package or portions of these regressive bills."

Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

“On his way out the door, Gov. Walker has once again stuck it to the voters, ignoring the will of the people and approving last-minute lame duck changes to Wisconsin law that will trample the rights and freedoms of citizens in our democracy for years to come. This shameful power grab is a fitting coda to the Scott Walker era. An era that will go down in history as putting partisan politics and personal political ambition above all else. Scott Walker has once again chosen to rig the system to his own party’s advantage instead of protecting Wisconsin’s tradition of open and honest government. Wisconsinites will remember Scott Walker for failing to create jobs, attacking worker rights, ignoring democratic principles, and always, always putting politics and power above the people.”

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