Just in time for Halloween, the Frankenstein Veto is alive and well. Yes, that maniacal laughter, "It’s alive! It’s alive!" we have all heard coming from the Capitol is courtesy of none other than our own version of Dr. Frankenstein: Gov. Jim Doyle. After nearly four months of waiting, the governor, the Assembly and the Senate all agreed to a compromise budget. The governor had hailed the compromise as a victory for taxpayers, yet when it came time for Mr. Doyle to actually sign the budget into law — in a wonderful dog and pony show at the Memorial Union — he decided that the compromise just wasn’t good enough. Instead of sticking to the compromise he had already applauded, the governor wielded his veto pen — the most powerful of any governor in the nation — to destroy the taxpayer protections he had agreed to. Rather than keeping a 2-percent property tax limit, Mr. Doyle saw fit to raise the limit to 3.86 percent. While this may not sound like that big of a deal, it isn’t just the fact that the governor negotiated in bad faith and lied to the Legislature and the people of Wisconsin about keeping the property tax bills in check — it is the way he did it that is so unforgivable. In order to raise the property tax limit to the 3.86-percent figure, Mr. Doyle first had to veto the 2-percent limit for 2008; then he carefully vetoed 62 words and numbers to get his increase. The actual numbers for 3.86 were taken from statute numbers. Mr. Doyle had to be so precise in using his veto that he took the number "3" out of the parentheses that surrounded it in the text. The number originally appeared as part of statute number s. 59.57 (3)(a). If you’re thinking that this sounds absurd, you’re right — it is. But believe it or not, this is exactly what Mr. Doyle did, and it all could have been avoided. Earlier this year, a story broke about the governor’s Frankenstein Veto of the last budget that eliminated hundreds of words over two entire pages of the budget to leave only twenty words and numbers that stole $427 million from the transportation fund. The gross abuse of power prompted the state Assembly to pass a bill that would eliminate the governor’s ability to write into law items that had never been voted on by any of the 132 members of the state Legislature. Unfortunately, the Senate never took up the bill. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson, D-Beloit, and Senate President Fred Risser, D-Madison, assured the people of Wisconsin it really wasn’t that important and that the Senate just didn’t have the time to be bothered by such trivial legislation. By all accounts, there were enough votes in the Senate to pass the Assembly’s bill, but Sen. Robson allowed the Frankenstein Veto to live another year. It will be interesting to see whether or not new Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, places a little bit more importance on the concept of open and honest government than did his predecessor. Unfortunately, this was not the only Frankenstein Veto that Mr. Doyle used on this budget. Several times he used his pen to cross out single words and change definitions to fit his own political agenda. Mr. Doyle eliminated numerous spending caps for individual agencies and vetoed legislative oversight of several programs. Some of his vetoes are exceptionally narrow and, at first glance, it is difficult to see who benefits and why he made the changes. Each time his Wisconsin Covenant proposal was mentioned in the budget, it was referred to as "Aid to the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc." Yet each time, Mr. Doyle vetoed the words "Aid to" and "Foundation, Inc." Given his past record with his veto pen, one has to ask why the governor would make such a specific change to one of his most important legislative goals. The question becomes, who receives a benefit from the change, and how much is it going to cost taxpayers? It is a shame that these questions have to be asked, but by his actions, Mr. Doyle has given us no other choice. Normally, Frankenstein is just one of those great, classic legends told around Halloween to get us all good and scared. Unfortunately for the citizens of Wisconsin, it is a frightening reality. Mike Hahn ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in history and political science.