Last week Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate identified a 2011 proposed bill that deserves more attention – followed by a quick defeat.
Proposed Bill No. 187, sponsored by Senators Bob Duff (Norwalk), Joan Hartley (Waterbury) and Gayle Slossberg (Milford) is called An Act Granting Power to the Governor to Balance the Budget .
It is a vehicle for giving the Governor more “budget authority” by allowing him to make even deeper cuts to the state budget without legislative approval.
Our (well-meaning) elected officials would do well to remember the important words of Thomas Jefferson when considering giving the Executive Branch powers that rightfully belong to the Legislative Branch.
“If the three powers maintain their mutual independence on each other our Government may last long, but not so if either can assume the authorities of the others.” – Thomas Jefferson
Concepts like the line item veto or granting the governor greater ability to refuse to follow a budget that has been passed and duly signed into law is a bad idea – regardless of who serves as Governor (or President).
I remember strongly opposing the concept when Bill Clinton asked for and received line item veto authority in 1996. After watching the Bush years in Washington and the Rowland/Rell years in Connecticut, I’m more convinced than ever that instead of trying to duck the issue of fiscal responsibility, we do better to simply hold legislators accountable if they fail to do their job and fulfill their duties.
I’m very glad to see Governor Malloy is quoted as saying that this legislation is not needed. The fact is, it is simply not appropriate for the Legislative Branch of Government to grant the Executive Branch this additional authority.
Brain Lockhart’s blog can be found here: http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2011/01/28/senators-offer-malloy-more-power-to-cut-budget/#comment-8044
This proposal mirrors the debate in Washington….where President Obama has actually asked Congress to pass a modified and more extensive line-item veto law.
Here are some other interesting thoughts about the Legislative Branch abdicating its authority by giving the Executive Branch more power (such as through the line item veto or greater rescission authority).
“…[T]he line-item veto is a convenient distraction. The vast bulk of the deficit is not the result of self-aggrandizing line items, infuriating as they are. The deficits [have been] primarily caused by unwillingness to make hard choices on benefit programs or to levy the taxes to pay for the true costs of government.” – USA Today, March 23, 2006
“Such tools, however, cannot establish fiscal discipline unless there is a political consensus to do so…. In the absence of that consensus, the proposed changes to the rescission process …are unlikely to greatly affect the budget’s bottom line. –Former CBO Director Donald Marron, Testimony before Congress’s House Rules Committee
[The line item veto] “would aggravate an imbalance in our constitutional system that has been growing for seven decades: the expansion of executive power at the expense of the legislature.” – George Will, The Washington Post 3/16/06