One thing that ought to be eliminated at a constitutional convention is the line-item veto. It was ruled unconstitutional for the federal government in the 1990s as giving the executive branch too much power. Unfortunately many state line-item vetoes are written into state constitutions, as is ours, and have therefore been upheld by courts.
Today we witness the damage that the line-item veto causes in the hands of a right-wing governor bent on using it to achieve his long-desired destruction of public services. Arnold’s vetoes include:
• An additional $6.2 million cut from state parks, which will likely cause as many as 50 more parks to be closed (potentially 1/3 of parks – 100 total – will now have to close)
• Elimination of state funding for community health clinic programs
• $80 million cut to child welfare services
• Total of about $400 million in health care cuts, including further Healthy Families cuts
• Elimination of funding for the Williamson Act programs to preserve farmland from development
• Deeper cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, as Brian noted.
• Cut 80% of funding for domestic violence shelters
• Elimination of funding for California Conservation Corps
• Cut half of Cal Grant funding, but could be restored “contingent upon enactment of legislation that authorizes the decentralization of the Cal Grant Program and other financial aid programs as warranted.”
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.
UPDATE: As the United Ways of California point out the children’s health care cuts are going to ensure the wider spread of H1N1 flu this fall. Children are one of the primary vectors of swine flu, and without access to health care we will see a more intense and more deadly flu epidemic when school starts this fall.
“We will fight to restore every dollar of additional cuts to health and human services. The Senate held the line and passed a budget revision package with a sufficient reserve that met the Governor’s test.
We question whether the majority of these vetoes are legal.
The Governor has the right to blue pencil an appropriation. The funding levels identified in the budget revision in many cases are not new appropriations.”
This is not the last word.”
What this means isn’t at all clear. It was the Assembly that shot down the HUTA raid and the offshore drilling, so is Steinberg saying those need to be revisited? Is he planning to sue? Is he planning a veto session? None of that is clear just yet.