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Restore balance of power in Madison

The Wisconsin constitution clearly defines the governor as the chief executive officer in the state. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos seems unclear on this concept.

Vos, with the mandate of the 16,775 Racine County voters who elected him to serve in the 63rd Assembly District, has set himself up as an opposition governor, relying on his near absolute power to control the flow of bills in the legislature to hold Wisconsin government hostage until he gets his will.

It is no surprise that Vos, a Republican, and Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, would disagree on many issues. One could even expect a certain level of friction, especially with the transition from the one-party rule that has been in place for the previous eight years.

The level of obstruction and outright childishness that has surfaced, particularly in the legislature in the past year, has been an embarrassment to the traditions of cooperation and bipartisanship that used to dominate in Wisconsin politics. The legislature’s refusal to act on approving the governor’s picks to lead state agencies is just one example of this, creating a situation of turmoil within those agencies that ultimately undermines the work they are supposed to be doing.

Rather than working together to move Wisconsin forward, the legislative and executive branches are at loggerheads. The legislature is overstepping its authority and seeking to deprive the executive of the ability to carry out the will of the majority of voters.

The Wisconsin constitution, mirroring the U.S. Constitution, establishes three equal branches of government, each with distinct responsibilities. The legislature, which makes the laws, the executive which enforces the laws, and the judicial, which rules on the laws. Each of these branches serve as checks and balances on the excesses of others, with all of them ultimately answerable to the voters.

If Wisconsin operated under a parliamentary model, like the United Kingdom, Vos would have legitimate right to the power he desperately craves. Unfortunately for Vos, Wisconsin does not have a parliament and he is not the prime minister of the state. He is just one voice out of 99 members of a state Assembly and is ultimately answerable solely to the voters that elected him to office.

Through the power of the speaker’s seat, Vos is seeking to establish a level of legislative tyranny that has nothing to do with serving the people of Wisconsin, but everything to do with building and maintaining personal power.

If Robin Vos wants to be governor he should file his nomination papers and start campaigning for that office. Vos won’t do that because he already has all the power while only being answerable to voters in his district.

Rather than allowing themselves to be dragged into a self-defeating game of “gotcha last,” local representatives must stand up to Vos and the party machinery and serve their constituents.