Governor Veto Pen
Brian and Robert have the rundown of what line-item veto cuts the Governor made today when signing the budget. The budget solution presented to him was about $1 billion short of the goal, so the Governor used his blue pencil to make unilateral cuts. I think I've said before that the good rule of thumb for these cuts, from the Governor's perspective, is to ask "Who doesn't vote?" and cut there. And for the most part, he did that. I guess he hopes that the AIDS patients who will no longer receive treatment due to cuts in the Office of AIDS Prevention and Treatment will succumb to the disease and therefore not vote. Cuts to child welfare and health care services fall on children who cannot vote. But since Schwarzenegger will never face voters again, he decided to even wield the blue pencil on actual voters. $6 million more got slashed from state parks, used by virtually everyone, and this could see as many as 100 state parks forced to close. All community health clinics get cut of their state funding, which may disproportionately affect rural areas, as will the elimination of funding for the Williamson Act, which gives farmers a subsidy to keep their parcels from falling into the hands of developers. In this budget, Schwarzenegger has assembled something for everyone to hate.
As Robert says, there's a way around this that the legislature probably won't take:
The state legislature could try and override these vetoes. But as we've seen time and again, this legislature appears to have forgotten that the override power actually exists. It would be a very good chance for Democrats to force Republicans to take a stand on these programs. Either they vote to restore the funding, or they vote to kick kids off of health care and close beaches and parks, giving Dems a set of issues to run on in 2010.
It seems doubtful that such an override will even be attempted. And so California slides deeper into ruin.
I'd have to look at the rules, and see if they've closed the extraordinary session and thus cannot override the blue-pencil vetoes. But basically this is correct. And some of those line-items, like the Williamson Act funding, would get a good deal of Republican support.
Needless to say, I agree that the line item veto, and the aggrandizement of executive power generally, should get ditched in a Constitutional convention. At the least, we could set up a mechanism where line items must be upheld by the Legislature.
...AP has a story up. Darrell Steinberg comes out with fighting words:
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who negotiated the original budget compromise with Schwarzenegger, immediately questioned the legality of many of the governor's line-item vetoes.
"We will fight to restore every dollar of additional cuts to health and human services," Steinberg said in a statement. "This is not the last word."
The last word, Senator, is override.
...also, fun fact: the budget is already around $8 billion short for 2010-2011. Surprise!