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Letter to governor: We’re not suing, but your line item vetoes were unconstitutional

Senate President Bob Burns and House Speaker Kirk Adams sent a letter Sept. 10 to the governor about concerns with some of her line item vetoes. Text is pasted below.

Dear Governor Brewer:

We write to express our concern that some of your line item vetoes to House Bills 2006 and 2011 exceed your constitutional authority. Legal counsel for the House and Senate as well as the nonpartisan Legislative Council attorneys agree that some of the line item vetoes are clearly policy determinations made by the Legislature, not “items of appropriation” subject to your line item veto authority. The Arizona Supreme Court held just three years ago in 47th Legislature v. Napolitano, 213 Ariz. 489, that the Governor’s line item veto authority is limited to “items of appropriation” and does not include policy decisions made by the Legislature.

Normally we would be compelled to initiate litigation, as we have in the past, to stop constitutionally unauthorized gubernatorial line item vetoes. Because of the unusual economic circumstances that the state is in, we have in this one instance decided to refrain from seeking relief from the Supreme Court. At a time when the State is in an economic crisis, we do not want to divert attention or dollars away from a resolution of critical budgetary issues. We understand that there are unique budget considerations regarding federal maintenance of effort requirements. We believe, however, that some of these issues could have been avoided if you would have instructed your staff to be more forthcoming in the sharing of information with the Legislature concerning the status and intended uses of federal stimulus dollars.

We want to make it absolutely clear that our decision not to seek legal redress in this particular instance should not be viewed as creating any precedent for similar issues in the future. We are acquiescing in your constitutionally untenable line item vetoes because of the special circumstances involved. We are unlikely to do so again.

Thank you for attending to these concerns. We look forward to cooperating with you for the good of Arizona.


Kirk Adams, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Bob Burns, President of the Senate

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