Clinics Challenge Governor’s Line-Item Vetoes to Health Care
On Wednesday, community health clinics and other groups filed a lawsuit alleging that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) acted illegally when he used line-item vetoes to deepen funding cuts for health and social programs by an additional $489 million, the Los Angeles Daily Journal reports.
The suit, filed with the First District Court of Appeals, aims to block more than $200 million of the governor's line-item cuts.
When the governor signed a budget revision package late last month, his vetoes eliminated an extra:
- $86 million from community health clinics;
- $60 million from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program; and
- $50 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program.
Adding to the Pile
The new lawsuit is the second legal action taken against Schwarzenegger this week.
On Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) sued the state over the governor's line item cuts. Steinberg filed the suit as an individual, not as a lawmaker.
Both suits argue that Schwarzenegger's line-item vetoes were illegal because he cut funding from a budget revision package instead of an appropriations bill.
Despite the recent spate of lawsuits, Schwarzenegger's administration maintains that the governor acted within his legal powers when he made the line-item cuts.
Jennifer Rockwell, chief counsel to the Department of Finance, said the governor had the authority to deepen funding cuts in the budget package because the term "appropriations" refers to any "specific sum of money from a fund that the executive branch can spend on a specific purpose" (George, Los Angeles Daily Journal, 8/13).
Implications of Steinberg's Suit
According to Capitol Weekly, Steinberg's challenge against Schwarzenegger's line-item vetoes "is as much a political one as it is a constitutional one," in part because it provides Steinberg an opportunity to formulate Democratic opposition to the governor (York, Capitol Weekly, 8/13).Steinberg is scheduled to discuss his suit in San Francisco today (Van Oot, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/13). 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.