Gov.’s Line-Item Vetoes Illegal, Legislative Counsel Concludes
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) exceeded his authority when he used line-item vetoes to cut funding from state health care services and other programs, according to an opinion issued Wednesday by the Legislature's legal counsel, the Los Angeles Times reports (Bailey, Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) asked the legislative counsel to evaluate the situation (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 8/6).
When the governor signed the budget revision package last week, he used line-item vetoes to eliminate $489 million in funding for state programs, including more than $150 million in cuts to health care programs.
The line-item vetoes came on top of about $1.6 billion in cuts to health care programs that the Legislature approved (California Healthline, 7/31).
In their four-page opinion, legislative counsel Diane Boyer-Vine and deputy counsel Michael Beaver asserted that most of Schwarzenegger's line-item vetoes were illegal because he cut funding from a budget revision package instead of an appropriations bill (Sacramento Bee, 8/6).
Democratic lawmakers contend that the governor does not have the power to eliminate previously approved funding from the February budget agreement (Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
Andrea Lynn Hoch, Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, said courts would agree that the governor has the power to enact line-item vetoes.
She said, "The budget -- original or amended -- can only contain appropriations, so the governor's authority to veto these appropriations is unquestioned."
Assembly member John Perez (D-Los Angeles) said lawmakers do not plan to file a lawsuit against the governor.
However, he said he expects legal action from "several groups" that would be hard hit by the line-item vetoes (Sacramento Bee, 8/6). Lawmakers would consider filing briefs with the court if such groups took action, he said (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/6).
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said restoring Schwarzenegger's cuts would be lawmakers' first priority when they return from summer recess later this month (Sacramento Bee, 8/6).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.