Gov. Schwarzenegger Sets Record by Vetoing 35% of Bills
By Tuesday's midnight deadline for legislative action, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed 415 of the 1,187 bills sent to him this legislative session, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Schwarzenegger's veto rate of 35% is by far the highest of any California governor since state officials began tracking that statistic when Ronald Reagan was governor.
Schwarzenegger's vetoes included several health care bills. The governor defended those vetoes, arguing that the state needs comprehensive health care reform.
In a veto message for about one-third of the reject bills, Schwarzenegger said, "The historic delay in passing the 2008-2009 State Budget has forced me to prioritize the bills sent to my desk at the end of the year's legislative session. Given the delay, I am only signing bills that are the highest priority for California. This bill does not meet that standard, and I cannot sign it at this time."
Aaron McLear, a spokesperson for the governor, said, "Obviously when you have the latest budget (ever) passed by the Legislature, that will have an effect on the legislative process, including the bill-signing period. We had 11 days to do what other governors in history had 30 days to do" (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/2).
Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) said, "There is no connection between the budget delay and having enough time to review bills."
Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) said, "I think the governor's just very angry," adding, "He had the responsibility to get the budget passed and he could not. ... I think it's just childish for a governor to govern out of anger and frustration, because a lot of regular people will suffer."
Tim Hodson, director of the Center for California Studies at California State University, said, "I think it's a pretty good indication of his frustration with the Legislature," adding, "He vetoed 10% more bills than the last record. It was such a dramatic increase that it clearly indicates a new attitude" (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 10/2).
Vetoes of Health Care Bills
In the final days of the session, Schwarzenegger vetoed several health care bills, including:
SB 840, by Kuehl, which would have established a government-run, universal health care system in California;
SB 981, by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), which would have prohibited emergency department physicians from directly billing patients when there are billing disputes with their HMOs;
SB 1440, by Kuehl, which would have required health insurers to spend at least 85% of patients' premiums on medical care; andemail subscription.