Lawyers for four nonprofit groups will ask a state appeals court in San Francisco Tuesday to restore $318 million in social services and health care funding cut by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in July.
The cuts were part of a total of $489 million in funding deletions made by Schwarzenegger on July 28 by using a line-item veto.
The cuts added further reductions to an emergency bill in which the Legislature trimmed the state budget by $24 billion in response to California’s fiscal crisis.
Lawyers for the organizations will argue before a three-judge Court of Appeal panel that the governor doesn’t have the constitutional power to use a line-item veto in a mid-year budget reduction bill.
They contend he can exercise such vetoes only in new appropriations bills.
The attorneys wrote in a brief filed this fall that the vetoes “will inflict severe and irreparable harm on sick children, disabled adults and others of the most vulnerable Californians.”
The Schwarzenegger administration maintains that the state Constitution gives the governor the power to veto any funding appropriation item, whether it is an increase or reduction in spending.
State attorneys told the court in a brief, “It is no secret that California is currently facing the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression and there has been a dramatic slowdown of the flow of revenues the state’s coffers.”
They argued the governor “has used his constitutional prerogative to ensure that state spending is consistent with our fiscal health.”
The appeals court panel is expected to take the case under consideration after hearing an hour of arguments at the State Building. It will have three months to issue a written ruling.
The plaintiffs, which include health care clinics and social service organizations, filed the lawsuit directly in the Court of Appeal in August.
In September, state Senate President Pro Tem. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, later joined by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, filed a similar lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court.
Steinberg and Bass were granted permission to join the Court of Appeal case as intervenors, or official parties, on the side of the nonprofit groups, and will also be represented at the hearing.