March 12, 2009

Will Charlie Crist threaten a budget veto if the legislature won't go along with using ARRA funds?

Mark Sanford's political ambitions might cost 7,500 South Carolina teachers their jobs because he doesn't want his state to accept federal ARRA funds. Charlie Crist's political ambitions might save thousands of Florida teachers their jobs because he does want Florida to accept federal ARRA funds. There are some legislators in Florida who agree with Mark Sanford. Florida's constitution requires a supermajority vote in both legislative chambers to use nonrecurring funds for more than a small portion of recurring expenses, and for a day or two I was very worried not enough legislators would agree to use (nonrecurring) federal dollars to plug the hole in the state's (recurring) revenues for education expenses.

Then it occurred to me what Crist has the power to do if a budget reaches his desk without using federal dollars: veto the entire thing and call the legislature back into session. I have no pipeline to the governor's office, and I suspect that Crist's answer to any question along these lines would be, "I am sure that I will not have to do that." So this is likely to be unverifiable and therefore unscientific speculation, though I think my speculation is based on the right levers in the state. In South Carolina, Sanford has the parallel power, which in his hands might wreak enormous damage by striking out parts of the budget that rely on federal ARRA funds.

Two ambitious Republican governors. Two very different potential directions for their states' futures.

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Tags: budget, Charlie Crist, stimulus
Posted in Education policy on March 12, 2009 6:35 PM |