Wisconsin Senate plans to vote on overriding Evers veto of PFAS funding, other bills

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans said Monday that the state Senate would vote to override up to 36 of the governor's vetoes, including a bill to fight PFAS pollution — moves that Democrats derided as desperate election year stunts.

At the same time, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers countersued the Republican-controlled Legislature in a fight over the spending of $50 million on a new literacy program.

Both moves come six months before the election and are just the latest examples of political jousting between Evers and the Legislature. Both are trying to use the stalemate over PFAS funding and other issues to their advantage in the November election as Democrats hope to pick up seats in the Legislature under the state's new legislative boundary maps.

Three dozen bills are scheduled for potential veto override attempts on Tuesday, but Republicans highlighted only five they definitely planned to take up. All are likely to fail. Any override would also need to be approved in the Assembly, but Republicans don’t have enough votes there to do it.

“We don’t need another round of press conferences and pointless show votes, we just need Republicans to release the money they’ve already approved and get out of the way," said Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesperson Joe Oslund.

Republican state Sen. Howard Marklein, co-chair of the Legislature's budget committee, said at a news conference that overriding Evers' vetoes was “about doing good public policy, getting money out the door.”

Marklein cast the veto overrides as the last chance to spend $125 million fighting PFAS pollution and to spend $15 million in response to hospital closures in rural parts of western Wisconsin .

“I don’t see any other pathway, unfortunately," Marklein said.

Evers and lawmakers have been fighting for months over the best way to combat PFAS chemicals that have polluted groundwater in communities throughout the state. Evers and Republicans have both said that fighting the chemicals is a priority, but they haven’t been able to agree on what to do about it.

Evers last month called a meeting of the Legislature's budget commit to release the $125 million that was previously approved in the budget, but Republicans didn't show up and accused Evers of political game-playing.

Republicans instead will vote to override Evers' veto of a bill that set up a framework for spending the money.

Other bills up for veto override votes would require new post-election audits, set a new goal for the state's gray wolf population and change the framework for teacher apprenticeship programs.

Even though the veto overrides are almost certainly doomed to fail, forcing the vote will give Republicans fodder they can use against Democrats on the campaign trail.

Meanwhile, as Republicans were holding news conferences around the state announcing their veto override plans, Evers said he was suing the Legislature. He filed a counterclaim in a lawsuit brought by Republicans in April challenging partial vetoes he made that changed how $50 million would be spent on a new student literacy program.

In a statement, Evers said it was “unconscionable” that Republicans had not released the funding for PFAS, the literacy program and rural health care.