Appeals Court Rules Governor’s Line-Item Vetoes Constitutional
On Tuesday, California's First District Court of Appeal ruled 3-0 that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) acted within his constitutional authority last summer when he used line-item vetoes to cut funding from health care and social service programs, theÂ San Francisco Chronicle reports.
When Schwarzenegger signed a budget revision package in July 2009, he used line-item vetoes to cut an additional $316 million from health care and social-service programs (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/3).
The governor's vetoes eliminated an additional:
- $60.5 million from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program;
- $52 million from HIV/AIDS programs;
- $50 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program;
- $6.2 million from the Department of Aging; and
- $4 million from the Department of Mental Health (California Healthline, 10/5/09).
After Schwarzenegger imposed the cuts, advocacy groups representing health clinics, disability organizations and others filed a lawsuit claiming that the governor had overstepped his legal authority with the line-item vetoes.
The suit argued that because lawmakers already had cut funding for the programs, the remaining funds were not new appropriations and therefore Schwarzenegger lacked the power to enact further cuts (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/3).
In the court's decision, Justice Anthony Kline wrote that the plaintiffs failed to show how Schwarzenegger overstepped his executive rights.
Kline wrote that the July budget revision was an appropriations package and therefore was subject to gubernatorial oversight (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 3/2).
Although the ruling applies only to some of the governor's line-item vetoes, the court indicated that Schwarzenegger acted within his authority when he cut a total of $489 million from the July budget revision package.
Derek Milosavljevic, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the advocacy groups would meet on Wednesday to discuss next steps (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/3).Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has filed his own lawsuit challenging the vetoes, but his case has yet to go to trial (Goldmacher, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/2). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.