Gov. Janet Napolitano rejected a legislative plan Friday to freeze all new state and university hiring and promotions.
In her second veto of the session, the governor called the measure “an unwarranted intrusion’’ into her power as the state’s chief executive.
“One branch of government cannot exercise the powers and authority properly belonging to another branch of government,’’ Napolitano wrote Friday. “That reason alone demands a veto of this bill.’’
But Rep. Bob Robson, R-Chandler, said Napolitano may be the one who doesn’t understand the role of the Legislature.
He said it would have been one thing if lawmakers told specific agency chiefs — who are part of the executive branch — not to do their jobs. But Robson said the legislative plan simply directed those agency chiefs not to hire new workers without showing a serious need because state expenses are outstripping the taxes coming in.
That, he said, fits within the Legislature’s constitutional role of adopting a budget.
The veto continues the war of words between the Democrat governor and the Republican leadership in the Legislature over how to make up a $1.2 billion deficit for the current fiscal year.
Republican leaders have blamed Napolitano for not taking immediate action last fall when the projected deficit was only $600 million. Napolitano countered that she has a plan to bridge the gap, though that involves only about $150 million in so-far unspecified spending cuts with the balance made up with long-term borrowing and taking cash from the “rainy day’’ fund.
Napolitano also instituted a hiring freeze for the agencies she controls, which do not include the universities and the courts.
In her veto message, Napolitano pointed out that the measure technically would not have done anything even if she signed it. That’s because it did not get the required two-thirds vote of each chamber to take effect immediately.
Bills without the emergency clause do not become law until 90 days after the legislative session ends.
Robson said the governor should have signed the measure anyway to show she agrees that drastic steps are needed.
“I’m totally disheartened over the fact she didn’t ‘get it’ from the standpoint that this would have been a real opportunity for her to make a statement of saying, ‘Yes, I’m joining in a bipartisan way with the Legislature,’’’ Robson said.