Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed controversial legislation on Friday aimed at stripping power from the incoming governor and attorney general.
"Despite all the hype and hysteria out there, these bills do nothing to fundamentally diminish executive authority," Walker, a Republican, said in a statement. "The bottom line is the new governor will continue to be one of the most powerful chief executives in the country."
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The legislation is designed to effectively prevent Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul from delivering on their campaign promises, including one bill that would require permission from the state Legislature before the state's executive branch could make waivers or changes to public assistance programs, including work- and drug-testing requirements for "able-bodied" adults.
The bills passed by the Republican-led Legislature would weaken the state's executive branch just as Democrats prepare to reclaim it after nearly a decade.
The bills also looked to reduce the number of early voting days and gives the Legislature veto power over whether to join or withdraw from various types of litigation, including a multi-state lawsuit seeking to invalidate Obamacare to which Wisconsin is a party.
In response to Walker's move, Evers issued a statement saying this would "no doubt" be Walker's legacy.
"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," Evers' statement said.
Evers has previously said he wouldn't rule out pursuing legal action if Walker didn't veto the bill.
Last week, when asked if he planned to sue over the matter if Walker didn't veto the legislation, Evers said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he wasn't "making any promises one way or the other."
"All issues are on the table," Evers said last week. "I'm not making any promises one way or the other, but we're looking at all issues, all options at the table. I need to stand up for the people of Wisconsin. There's 2.6 million people that voted in this last election, and they expect me to do that. So I'm going to, we're going to pursue this."
In his statement Friday, Walker said his criteria when evaluating the bills was "simple."
"My criteria when evaluating these bills were simple: Do they improve transparency? Do they increase accountability? Do they affirm stability? And do they protect the taxpayers? The answer is yes," Walker said in his statement.
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