Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he will not sign any bill that comes his way until a budget is passed.
He made this statement at a press conference in which he called for consequences for legislators who do not complete their responsibility of passing a budget on time. He had another plan for the legislators’ failure — cut their pay if no budget is in place and don’t make it up with back pay once the budget is passed.
The second idea is wishful thinking. The former, he has the power to do. If he applies his veto pen to all measures that come to his desk before a budget is signed, many legislators will be disappointed. And, probably only a handful of bills, if that, will be able to muster the two-thirds vote to override the veto.
This veto plan is a good one. Not only because the governor can put pressure on the legislature to pass the budget, but because it may focus attention on the myriad of new laws we face in California every year.
Last year the legislature passed 964 bills. The governor vetoed 214, a bit less than a quarter of the total but he signed 750 into law.
I suppose someone who seeks a job titled "lawmaker" expects to make laws. But living under changing laws is difficult for the people. Aristotle noted long ago that constantly changing laws are hard to follow. No one knows whether the law may be altered again tomorrow.
Beyond this year’s budget debate, perhaps the governor can support a plan that will limit the number of bills.
But that debate is for another time. The governor’s proposal to have the legislators deal with the budget first is right on target – and, frankly, we could probably do without many of those bills the legislators are currently debating instead of working on the budget, anyhow.