Ooo . . .kay. The last post, about the possibility of Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter doing some smackdown and drawing a hard line for the lawmakers – if he vetoes a stack of eight key budget bills – needs to be superseded. This morning, the vetoes were something he said he might do on Thursday. This afternoon, he did it – the bills are vetoed.
Legislative reaction seems to be as you might expect: They’re not happy, and the operating majority in the House – which is the rampart against Otter’s transportation request – sounds as if it is determined to hang in there. Which means, since there are no budget bills in operation, that both sides have locked into trench warfare.
Trench warfare is a matter of attrition, of patience, of holding out longer than the other guy. In this case, since the governor is a full timer who reports to the work every day whatever happens, and since the legislators are part-timers who have other work to do, the advantage seems to lie with the governor. That suggests that legislators are the ones to cave, except that they did that before, in the term of Governor Dirk Kempthorne, and they may loathe to let this become a pattern.
Do they have any options, any edge? That’s unclear, but here’s one thought (and don’t count this as a prediction they’ll try to do it).
The two houses of the legislature cannot adjourn, in effect, for more than three days at a time. But suppose they did that – meet in pro forma, quorum-satisfying, sessions briefly once every three days. They could keep on doing that for quite a while, especially since so many legislators live within an hour’s drive or so of the statehouse. They could keep doing that for months.
In July, a new fiscal year begins, and agencies – all of them – will need an operating budget. Imagine a game of fiscal chicken running up to June 30 . . .
The mind boggles.Share on Facebook