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Court Backs Governor’s Use of Line-Item Vetoes

(CN) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not abuse his line-item veto authority when he used it to cut an additional $489 million from last year's budget, a California appeals court ruled.

Schwarzenegger's 27 line-item vetoes reduced funding for the Medi-Cal program by $60 million, cut AIDS program funding by $52 million and eliminated funding for community clinics, according to the ruling.

St. John's Well Child and Family Center, a string of 11 community health care centers and clinics in Los Angeles County, claimed that the 27 vetoed items had already been appropriated and were not subject to further reductions.

The 1st District Court of Appeal said the items were subject to Schwarzenegger's line-item veto power, because appropriations do not refer exclusively to spending increases.

"Whether spending authority is increased or decreased, it is still spending authority," Justice Anthony Kline wrote for the

San Francisco-based court.

An amendment to the 2009 Budget Act allowed for "revisions in appropriations."

St. John's argument that the decision to increase budget reductions was a policy issue belonging to the legislative and not the executive branch was "little more than wordplay," the court ruled.

It noted that Schwarzenegger only increased the amount of reductions; he did not change the items themselves. The court also pointed out that the state Legislature can still override the veto by reconsidering the items and passing them by a two-thirds majority vote.

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