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Evers not optimistic Wisconsin Gov. Walker will veto bills

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov.-elect Tony Evers said on Sunday that he’s not optimistic that outgoing governor Scott Walker will veto bills the Republican-dominated state Legislature approved to limit the new governor’s power.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Evers said he had talked by telephone with Walker recently and appealed to him to veto the legislation, but that Walker had not made a commitment one way or the other.

Evers, who will be sworn in on Jan. 7 after narrowly defeating the two-term Republican last month, said Wisconsin voters did not elect him to fight over administrative powers with the GOP legislative majority. He said the lame-duck legislation approved by lawmakers after an all-night session last week “gets us off to a bad start. And I think that’s a mistake.”

“But we’ll continue working to get the people of Wisconsin to convince Scott Walker to think about his legacy and make sure that he vetoes this language,” Evers said.

Walker has suggested that he generally supports the legislation, although his office said late last week only that he was reviewing it. Walker has six days after the bills are delivered to him to either sign them into law, allow them to become law without his signature or veto them. He may also be able to line-item veto parts of them, depending on how they are drafted and whether they call for money to be spent.

If Walker should sign the bills, lawmakers would be able to decide when the state can withdraw from lawsuits, and Evers would have to request permission to adjust programs run jointly with the federal government, such as Medicaid. The GOP measures would also empower legislators, rather than Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, to decide whether to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit challenging the federal Affordable Care act. And they would make it harder for Evers to renegotiate a $3 billion subsidy Walker and GOP lawmakers have offered in return for the construction of the giant manufacturing plant Foxconn Technology Group is having built in southeastern Wisconsin.

In Michigan, where a Democrat also won the governor’s office this year, Republicans are similarly considering proposals to strip campaign-finance oversight from the new Democratic secretary of state. With a Democrat poised to take control of the attorney general’s office, GOP lawmakers there also want to have authority to intervene in lawsuits.

Evers said Sunday that if Walker had won in Wisconsin, “we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this today.” The incoming governor said the GOP moves are “directly related” to a Democrat’s win.

Although Evers has said he might have to sue unless Walker vetoes the legislation, he said Sunday that “all issues are on the table” and that he is “not making any promises one way or the other,”

“I need to stand up for the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said.

A spokeswoman for Walker did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

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