Gov. Janet Napolitano misused her power of line-item veto in attempting to kill a change in state personnel rules, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The justices acknowledged that the governor is constitutionally entitled to veto portions of any bill that contains “one or more items of appropriation.’’ But they unanimously rejected Napolitano’s argument that the future costs the state would incur because of the change in the law made it an appropriation.
Napolitano sought to downplay the significance of the ruling, calling it “a good faith dispute between two branches of government.’’
The Democratic governor also said she doubts the decision which limits her power will affect future budget negotiation efforts with the Legislature.
But House Speaker Jim Weiers, who brought the lawsuit along with Senate President Ken Bennett, said the decision is a proper curb on gubernatorial power.
“It doesn’t matter who the governor is,’’ Weiers said. “The Legislature could not idly stand by and allow a power grab. That went completely against the nature of what the (state) constitution says.’’
The spat stems from January legislation giving big pay raises to state employees.