Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 78 ...and still counting – SURPRISE#1: GOVERNOR WILL VETO BUDGET PROPOSAL!

Surprise #2: Governor's website crashes and cannot handle live webcast of veto press event!  •  play video

Surprise#3: If lege overides his veto he threatens to veto every bill on his desk!

By Steve Wiegand - Sacramento Bee

Published 3:26 pm PDT Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today said he would veto the long overdue budget lawmakers sent him just hours before because it does not include long-term spending changes he wants.

The move extends the state's record-setting budget impasse and sets up what could be an unprecedented override attempt.

"People aren't getting paid, hospitals are in danger of closing, but I will not sign a get out of town budget...that punishes taxpayers," Schwarzenegger said.

If lawmakers vote to override the veto, Schwarzenegger said, he will veto all the bills awaiting action on his desk.

A marathon session of the Legislature ended at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday with the proposed compromise receiving the necessary two-thirds majority to pass the Assembly, 61-1, and the Senate, 28-12.

But lawmakers rejected one of Schwarzenegger's demands, which would have placed tighter limits on when and how much money could be transferred from the state's rainy-day fund.

It would take two-thirds of the Legislature to override the veto, and veto overrides are rare in California. The last time it was even attempted, according to the Speaker's office, was in 2003, and it failed.

But legislative leaders of both parties said they were prepared to override Schwarzenegger this time.

Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, the Senate's Republican leader, told a Los Angeles radio talk show that the Senate "most definitely" would override the GOP governor if he vetoes the budget.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said she was confident the two-thirds vote could be achieved. "If we bring 120 legislators up here to override a veto, I'm pretty confident that we're not going to have difficulty doing that, and we would do it in rapid fire," she said.

Schwarzenegger's veto sent Capitol historians scrambling today to look for precedents.

It's not clear when - or even if - a governor has ever actually vetoed an entire budget. H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said research as far back as 1921 found no instances of it occurring.

Not that governors haven't threatened it. In July 1991, Gov. Pete Wilson promised to veto the budget legislators had sent him because it lacked a tax increase and workers' compensation reforms he wanted. Instead, Wilson held onto the bill until almost the last minute of the 12 days he could legally hold it without acting, and then sent it back to the Legislature, which immediately sent it back to him. That started a new 12-day clock in which the warring parties reached a compromise.

The last successful overrides were in July 1979. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that sought to ban banks from getting into the insurance business. But the bill's author, Assemblyman Lou Papan, D-Daly City, succeeded in getting the veto overridden on his second try.

Another Brown veto was also overridden earlier that month. The bill, by Sen. Al Alquist, D-San Jose, proposed $220 million in pay raises for state workers. Legislators also overrode eight items in that year's budget bill.

Brown, in fact, had vetoes overridden several times, the first of which was in 1977 when he vetoed a bill that reinstituted the death penalty in California.

As it happened, Brown - now the state's Attorney General - appeared with Schwarzenegger Tuesday at a ceremony at the Stanford Mansion to honor heroic law enforcement officers.

Asked what it's like to be overridden by the Legislature, Brown said, "It's not a big deal. It happens. In fact, if you're not getting vetoed now and then you probably aren't doing too well."

Asked if Schwarzenegger should veto the budget, Brown said "I don't think I should enter the polarized fray ... I'm the governor's lawyer, so I think I'll keep my counsel as I provide him with my own."

The overrides during Brown's administration came even though members of his own party, the Democrats, controlled the Legislature. But like Schwarzenegger, Brown was almost as unpopular with many members of his own party as he was with the opposing party.

Prior to Brown, California governor's vetoes had been overridden only twice in the previous 31 years, once during Ronald Reagan's administration and once during Earl Warren's.

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