State Supreme Court: Gov. Can Use Line-Item Veto To Trim Spending
On Monday, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the California governor has the authority to use line-item vetoes to make spending adjustments to items already reduced by the state Legislature, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) approved a budget appropriations package in February 2009, but he later declared a fiscal emergency as the state economy grew worse.
Legislators cut spending from the budget by $15.6 billion (Walsh, Sacramento Bee, 10/5). Schwarzenegger then used the line-item veto to further reduce spending by an additional $489 million (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4).
The vetoes targeted funding for certain health care and social services programs, including:
- $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, 6/10).
Opponents of the line-item vetoes argued that the reductions were not appropriations but were pieces of legislation that only the Legislature could adjust (Sacramento Bee, 10/5).
Court Ruling Details
The ruling stated that all spending is subject to the governor's line-item veto, regardless of whether the vetoes are called "appropriations" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4).
The Supreme Court said an 88-year-old constitutional amendment passed by voters clearly authorized the power used by Schwarzenegger (Sacramento Bee, 10/5).
Schwarzenegger said the line-item vetoes "were absolutely necessary to keep our state functioning" (Office of the Governor release, 10/4).
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the ruling "upsets the balance of powers enshrined in our constitutions" and "will only worsen our already broken budget system" (Sacramento Bee, 10/5).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.