The Arizona Supreme Court recently handed Governor Napolitano a double defeat. In the first, the Court agreed to review the Governor's line-item veto. In the second, the ruling in the line-item case was unanimous.
In this case, the governor line-item vetoed a change in state personnel policy. But, the Arizona Constitution limits line-item vetoes to spending proposals; they can't be used to make policy changes. There's good reason for that: the framers of the state constitution wanted the executive branch to be able to cut excessive spending, not legislate.
The governor argued that possible costs created by this policy change amounted to an appropriation, making it subject to line-item veto authority. But, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected this reasoning. The Court ruled that a change in policy does not constitute an appropriation, even if there is a fiscal impact.
The state Supreme Court ruling is a welcome move in keeping executive power in check.
Jeffrey McLerran is a Goldwater Institute Ronald Reagan Fellow.
-Arizona Supreme Court: 47th Legislature et al v. Napolitano et al
-Goldwater Institute: "One Line at a Time"
-Arizona Constitution, Article 5, Section 7
-Arizona Republic: "Court strikes down governor line-item veto"