LETTER: Referenda put power in Republicans’ hands

To the editor:

Ever since his 2016 Republican National Convention speech, when Donald J. Trump declared “I alone can fix it,” it’s become a phrase we hear more and more frequently. It’s like everyone is clamoring for power. Power to control because only they know how to fix it.

Now, it seems the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature wants to get in on the action with permanent changes to our state constitution that gives them absolute control over federal funding “as only they see fit.” The governor cannot veto anything that is in the state’s constitution.

I’m voting no on both constitutional amendment questions on the Aug. 13 ballot. These amendments are meant to give the legislature control over delegating where federal funds are spent and would restrict the governor’s ability to accept and allocate federal funds without the consent of the legislature. Right now, the governor and the legislature must work together to decide how to distribute most federal funds in Wisconsin.

These changes would be a disaster if Wisconsin had extensive tornado or flooding damage. If these referendums pass and our state constitution is changed, the legislature would first have to be called into a special session, which may take a few days. They would then have to agree if they wanted to accept federal funds and decide on how they would allocate the money. There could be gridlock and delays in getting emergency funding for firefighters, police and hospitals.

During the pandemic, Gov. Tony Evers quickly allocated funds for unemployment benefits, local governments, education, health services, children and families, housing and more. The current Wisconsin Legislature does not have a good track record when it comes to complying with the governor’s requests for a special session. The Republican leadership refused the governor’s call for a special session to take action during the heights of the COVID-19 crisis.

Referendums to change our state constitution are permanent. We don’t know what crises lie ahead. We can’t accept this power play by the Republicans in the current legislature where they would hold all the purse strings. Don’t be fooled by the misleading language of the referendums. Vote in the primary election, and vote no on referendums 1 and 2.

Jan Koch, Shawano