Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday shared a list of criteria he said he will use to evaluate a set of proposals passed quickly in a lame-duck session last week, weighing in publicly for the first time since the legislation was approved by the Republican-led Legislature.
Walker did not share a timeline for when he will make a decision, but his comments indicated support for several measures contained in the extraordinary session bills. If the governor does not call for the bills beforehand, they will arrive on his desk Dec. 20. He would then have six days, not including Sunday, to act on them. He could sign them or veto them in whole or in part. If he takes no action, they will become law as if he had signed them.
A spokeswoman for the governor said he has not yet called for the bills.
"Let’s set the record straight — the new governor will still have some of the strongest powers of any governor in the nation if these bills become law. He will have the power to veto legislation and he will have some of the broadest line-item veto authority of any governor in the nation," Walker wrote in a Facebook post shared Tuesday morning.
Gov.-elect Tony Evers will also still have the powers to appoint cabinet members and some state and local government officials, to sign off on administrative rules, to introduce a two-year state budget and to pardon convicted felons, Walker added.
"None of these things will change regardless of what I do with the bills passed in the state Legislature last week," Walker wrote.
Evers, who will be sworn in on Jan. 7, told "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd in a Sunday interview that he spoke with Walker by phone last week and urged him to veto the legislation, but said he was "not particularly encouraged" that Walker would heed his request.
"But it's around Scott Walker's legacy. He has the opportunity to change this and actually validate the will of the people that voted on Nov. 6," Evers said on the show.
Evers has said "all options are on the table" when asked whether he would sue to overturn the bills if they are signed into law before he takes office.
"The entire thing is a mess," Evers said Sunday. "It's a hot mess."
Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback called for Walker to veto the bills and work with the Evers transition.
“The people of Wisconsin demanded a change on November 6th. Governor Walker knows this and needs to decide whether he wants the final act of his legacy to be overriding the will of the people," she said. "Governor-elect Evers has called on Governor Walker to do the right thing and veto this legislation. It’s time for Republicans to stop putting politics before people and to start working together with the incoming Evers administration on the pressing issues facing our state.”
Voters on Nov. 6 elected Democrats to lead the executive and judicial branches, but Republicans retained majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Proponents of the legislation have argued it is necessary to maintain a balance of power among each branch of state government, while opponents say it unfairly restricts the authority of the incoming Democratic administration.
Lawmakers worked last week from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning as they navigated closed-door meetings and negotiations to pass the bills, which were first introduced Friday afternoon. The proposals earned no Democratic support and drew a handful of Republican defectors.
Under the legislation, the state could not withdraw from a lawsuit without legislative approval — a change that would prevent Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul from upholding their campaign promises to remove Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation also narrows the window for early voting to two weeks before an election and shifts a variety of decision-making powers from the executive and judicial branches to the Legislature.
Walker said he will evaluate the bills based on a set of "reasonable" and "straightforward" criteria. He said he will look to determine whether the legislation improves transparency, increases accountability, affirms stability and protects the taxpayers.
He also voiced support for several provisions in the legislation, including a measure that would require Evers to issue a report on anyone he pardons. Walker has not issued any pardons during his two terms as governor. Walker also argued a provision that would give the Legislature final approval of how legal settlements are spent "makes sense."
Kaul told reporters last week the bills are "virtually certain to end up in litigation" if Walker signs them into law.