Research Note: History of Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance’s Veto Powers

Harry Isaiah Black, Staff Attorney
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Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) has a range of statutorily conferred powers, including powers to veto executive-branch actions. Litigants are challenging the constitutionality of several of those veto powers in a pending Wisconsin Supreme Court case. This Research Note and accompanying table document the history of JCF’s veto powers, identifying their origin and evolution over time.

JCF was established in 1911. For decades thereafter, its primary role was to review bills related to appropriations, revenue, or taxation before those bills were considered by the full legislature.[1] Today, JCF continues to perform a range of similar advisory and analytic tasks.[2]

More recently, JCF gained a distinct type of authority—to approve or veto a variety of executive branch actions. According to a January 2023 report prepared by Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), JCF as of 2023 wields 120 separate approval or veto powers.[3]

The table below organizes the 120 powers identified in the LFB report chronologically. The table provides the year JCF first gained each veto power, the session law that conferred it, and the evolution of that power through subsequent modifications.

As the table indicates, JCF first began to acquire its veto powers in the 1970s. More than 85% of those powers originated after 1980, and nearly one-third of them were established or expanded since 2010, reflecting a gradual accretion of JCF authority over time. The summary chart to the right lists the number of JCF veto powers added each decade. Note that the first power identified in the LFB report dates to 1959. That power—to “approve determination of the format detail to be used in agency budget requests”—does not appear to be a full-fledged veto power of the sort that began to emerge in the 1970s; rather, it merely authorized JCF to set protocols for agency budget requests.


History of JCF Powers



[1] State of Wis. Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Informational Paper 81: Joint Committee on Finance, 5 (Jan. 2023),

[2] Id., Appendices II, IV, VI, VII.

[3] Id., Appendix V.

This report was published on March 25, 2024