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Tug of war nags state budget

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — Disagreements between Gov. Bill Richardson and the Legislature are making state budget cutting even more traumatic. Both sides are pushing hard on the limits of their authority to get the upper hand on what will be cut.

Our state constitution created a weak governor in order not to put too much power in any one person’s hand. But it does give the governor line-item veto authority. Gov. Richardson has been using that power to its fullest extent.

The clash between Richardson and Legislature has created some big questions. We know the governor cannot use his veto pen to increase an appropriation. Only the Legislature can appropriate.

But does the governor have the authority to decrease a budget cut? That is what he did when he line-item vetoed the Legislature’s 7.6 percent in spending for his agencies and then issued an executive order imposing lesser cuts.

And how much authority does Gov. Richardson have when he issues executive orders? He has vetoed several other bills in the past and then issued an executive order doing it his way. Eventually a court may have to decide that issue.


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