Aligning herself with predecessors from both parties, Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday vetoed legislation to give lawmakers the power to decide how federal funds given to the state are spent.
"The disposition of federal funds is constitutionally and traditionally held by the executive branch,'' Brewer wrote in what are her eighth and ninth vetoes of the session. "Any limitation or changes in that authority should be considered within the overall balance of power between the three branches of government.''
Two vetoes were necessary as both the House and Senate sent her identical measures.
Lawmakers have been trying for years to wrest that authority from the governor. Proponents say only by having control of all funds -- not just what is raised from state taxes -- can legislators ensure all the money is being used in the best way possible.
Brewer admitted to Capitol Media Services that she voted for this precise measure during her 14 years as a legislator, under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The governor's veto leaves open the possibility she would be willing to give up that power -- but only if she got something else back.
That's precisely the deal that Republican Fife Symington tried to strike with lawmakers in 1996: He would sign over control of federal funds if lawmakers would give him the power to reduce specific appropriations in the budget. Governors have only line-item veto power, meaning they have to accept the specific allocation or reject it entirely.
When that line-item reduction authority did not materialize, Symington vetoed the other bill.