Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday signed a package of lame-duck bills designed to limit his Democratic successor’s powers, including his ability to fulfill core campaign vows around health care.
Mr. Walker, a Republican who lost to Gov.-elect Tony Evers last month, said the impact of GOP bills, which Democrats and pundits decried as an unseemly “power grab,” has been overblown.
He focused on what the governor can still do, rather than new limits, in justifying his signature.
“Despite all the hype and hysteria out there, these bills do nothing to fundamentally diminish executive authority,” Mr. Walker said. “The bottom line is the new governor will continue to be one of the most powerful chief executives in the country.”
Mr. Evers accused Republicans of trying to undo the results of the election, though it’s unclear yet if he plans to sue.
“The will of the people was ignored,” Mr. Evers told reporters in Madison.
Among other changes, the bills would limit early voting to no more than two weeks before an election and water down Mr. Ever’s control of a state jobs agency.
Notably, the bills would effectively thwart Mr. Evers from withdrawing from a state-driven lawsuit against Obamacare, one of his main campaign promises, and let Republican lawmakers intervene in lawsuits over the will of incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, another Democrat.
On Twitter, Mr. Kaul called the legislation “stunningly bad.”
The bills also codify work requirements attached to Medicaid benefits, so Mr. Evers’ cannot try to undo the waiver that Mr. Walker secured from the Trump administration.
Republicans who sponsored the bills said they were necessary to preserve major gains under Mr. Walker and maintain a balance between the legislature and executive branch.
Mr. Walker had mulled partial vetoes but ultimately sided with his GOP partners. He said the incoming governor will still have sweeping veto powers and control over budget decisions and nominees.
“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,” Mr. Walker said.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, said Mr. Walker’s action fit a pattern of putting “partisanship over people.”
“Today’s political power grab is no different,” she tweeted. “He is disrespecting voters and undermining the democratic process.”