Wisconsin legislature votes to send two ballot questions related to the governor’s power to appropriate federal funds to the November ballot

The Wisconsin State Assembly took the final vote in a two-session process to send two constitutional amendments to the general election ballot for Nov. 5. Both relate to the governor’s power to appropriate federal funds given to the state.

The first question will ask voters whether the legislature should be prohibited from delegating its power to appropriate money. The second question would require legislative approval via a joint resolution before the governor can expend federal money appropriated to the state.

The ballot measures were introduced in response to federal funds allocated to the state during the coronavirus pandemic. State Rep. Robert Wittke (R-62) said, “As you are well aware, billions of federal dollars pour into our state in the last couple of years. These supplemental federal funds were important to our state’s economic well-being, but only Governor Evers made the determination for allocation of all that money without legislative consideration. AJR 6 would amend the Wisconsin Constitution by prohibiting the governor from allocating federal moneys without the approval of the legislature.”

Jennifer Giegerich, government affairs director of Wisconsin Conservation Voters, testified in opposition to the ballot question, writing, “[The measures] would amend the Wisconsin Constitution to add another level of government process during times when we are most vulnerable and depend on efficiency and a smooth process to receive much needed support. Our current system of the governor and legislature working together to fashion a timely state budget, with known deadlines and a long deliberative process, is not effective when dealing with emergencies.”

Ballotpedia has identified 16 statewide ballot measures appearing on ballots between 2021 and 2024 that were related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and coronavirus-related regulations. Voters in Arizona and California will also decide on COVID-related ballot measures this year. In Arizona, voters will decide an amendment to provide that the state legislature can terminate a state of emergency or alter the emergency powers granted to the governor. In California, voters will decide on an initiative to create a state Pandemic Early Detection and Prevention Institute.

In Wisconsin, the state legislature is required to approve an amendment by a majority vote in two successive sessions for the amendment to appear on the ballot. During the 2021-2022 legislative session, the amendments passed by a vote of 60-36 in the state Assembly and by 20-11 in the state Senate. During the 2023-2024 session, the amendments passed by a vote of 61-35 in the state Assembly and 22-10 in the state Senate. All votes were largely along party lines, with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing the amendments.

In total, Wisconsin voters will see five constitutional amendments on their ballot this year—the most since 1982 when there were 10 amendments on the ballot. In April, voters will decide on two questions that would prohibit any level of government in the state from applying or accepting non-governmental funds or equipment for election administration and provide that only election officials designated by law may administer elections. The other ballot question appearing on the Nov. 2024 ballot would provide that only U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or older can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections. All five ballot questions are legislative referrals.


Wisconsin Prohibit Legislature from Delegating Appropriations Power Amendment (2024)

Wisconsin 2024 ballot measures

Ballot measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and coronavirus-related regulations