Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Governor Vetos Spending Freeze

The Arizona Capitol Times just ran an article (subscription required) stating that Governor Napolitano vetoed a legislative bill that would freeze government spending. In a year where we're about a billion in the hole, you'd think any relief would be welcome. Well think again.

In her veto letter, the Governor stated that she vetoed the bill because it wasn't "a comprehensive plan developed and approved by legislative Democrats". Are those the requirements? At the rate we're going, a comprehensive budget bill looks as likely as comprehensive immigration reform. That's not to say that our legislators aren't working on it. They're working very hard on it but there are some pretty fundamental ideologies that are getting in the way. The Democrats want to borrow enough money to get us through while the Republicans want to cut programs (yes, I have massively oversimplified it).

So here's the problem: the Republicans have the majority so they can pass the legislation that they want. However, the Governor is a Democrat and can veto Republican legislation and the Republicans don't have enough votes to override the veto. There's the balance of power.

In my opinion, this veto is a shot across the bow. The Governor is telling the Legislature that the budget fixes must be comprehensive and involve the Democrats. This hands a lot more power to Legislative Democrats than they would normally have. So, unless the Republicans can get a two-thirds majority in both houses, they are stuck working with the Democrats. This means compromise.

The real question here is whether or not this move is bad for Arizona. The answer is "I hope not". If the two parties can come together and compromise on the budget (and that's a big if), then we may get a budget plan that works for both sides. If not, we may be in for some real trouble.

This is also covered in the Arizona Republic.

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