Hmmm. It is getting more weird. Since last week, when Borreca had a seemingly throw-away comment in a Q & A with Speaker Say, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and some checking. To that end, I decided to compare the transfer language in past budgets to the transfer language that is in the current budget about to be passed. The transfer language in the latest draft of the budget seems fairly typical in that regard, so I don’t see any reason for a veto of the new budget over the transfer of funds. Next, I reviewed the testimony submitted on the budget this year. [META: Given the importance of the document, it's amazingly sparse on testimony. Odd.] None of the testifiers raised any concern about transferring funds.
Meanwhile, a reliable source in the Capitol suggested that this bill, and not the budget bill, is the one facing a potential veto. I doubt it. Going into conference committee SB 387 would have required the Lege to approve any transfers of funds from one budget item to another. Indeed, there was testimony from the administration saying that it was unconstitutional and unworkable for those transfers to require legislative approval—which is not-so-subtle code for “we will veto this bill.” However, at this point the conference draft only requires the Governor to submit quarterly reports detailing any such transfers. That’s not unconstitutional, and it’s not very onerous, so I highly doubt she’d veto it in this form.
On the off chance that he’d respond to a blogger, I have sent an email to Russel Pang of the Governor’s press office, asking if he would like to explain or clarify what is going on. No response yet, but it’s only been a few hours…
Then, while eating my dinner I was reading Larry Price’s latest Midweek column:
First, can you remember when a governor has vetoed the entire state budget? I can’t, but it still remains a possibility. If that happens, the state of Hawaii would be literally shut down on July 1. The ramifications would be immense. Emotions would be pushed to the breaking point.
Price does not provide, nor does he even attempt to offer, an explanation of what is behind this veto “possibility.” Of course, every bill passed by the Lege faces the “possibility” of a veto, but Price clearly thinks the budget is in a uniquely risky position. Finally, after a few paragraphs of thoroughly cryptic rambling about “unholy coalitions” and “dirty tricks,” Price adds,
Hopefully, the governor won’t be forced [sic!] to veto the entire budget, although it appears clear that there are forces in the legislature pushing for that outcome.
Wha?! Which “forces” in the Lege favor a veto of the budget? Why be coy, Mr. Price? Sheesh. If you know who, then name names!
I think there is something queer about the way in which this whole meme has been propogated. Why the media are not pursuing the administration for comment is baffling and frustrating. For now, the Lingle regime appears to have been given a pass. I guess a budget being vetoed is not considered newsworthy. ??