OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy



Monday, June 12, 2006 :::
 

Goldman's Take on McDonnell's Budget Opinion

Democratic wise man Paul Goldman has this to say about AG Bob McDonnell's opinion on who can do what if the legislature doesn't pass a budget. Agree or disagree, it's interesting reading:

Governor Kaine, and now Attorney General McDonnell, have staked out very solid and sound legal positions on what happens should the General Assembly flunk it's constitutional duties come July 1st.

Hopefully, as the Governor and the Attorney General point out, the Legislative branch will avoid a constitutional crisis. But neither of them have any control over what that branch of government will do.

As I have written previously, it was my view that certain newspaper stories were misstating what they believed the AG would ultimately opine on the matter.

Mr. McDonnell's opinion proves that this view was correct. Fortunately, we don't have any of those reporters, columnists or editorialists for AG.

The AG's opinion is based on a reasoned and professional analysis of the law in the toughest of all legal matters, a case of first impression of complicated constitutional matters.

When Governor Warner asked me to help resolve a very sticky legal issue with Attorney General Kilgore, it was done by all sides in a very professional manner. The same when Mayor Wilder, a representative of AG Kilgore and myself went to Washington to address legal issues on the Elected Mayor referendum.

We were lawyers, not partisans, even though the matters had political overtones.

The same here with McDonnell and his staff.

The Constitutional is clear on the issue of the appropriation of money, an issue that has come up when the Congress has not passed appropriation legislation by certain cut off dates, the last such time being under former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The Legislative Branch's responsibility is clear.

But this is a separate matter that does not prevent Governor Kaine from doing what he says he will do: for example, keep the prisons running. What would the newspapers have him do, turn over the keys to the inmates, and tell them to be good boys until the General Assembly does it's constitutional duty?

Governor Kaine is absolutely right to say he has the legal authority to keep certain services going.

As the AG makes clear, the actual payment of the compensation for such services will ultimately require a legislative branch act.

The AG is absolutely right in this constitutional interpretation.

What all this really boils down to is this: Should the General Assembly fail to do its constitutional duty, then it will take the cooperation of state workers and contractors to continue working knowing they will get paid although it might not be as quickly as normal.

Virginians will, in my view, rally to help the Governor, no doubt about it.

Yes, sometime our legal tradition, based on the separation of powers at the government level, can be cumbersome at times.

AG McDonnell and his staff have, in my view, taken a measured and judicial approach to their legal analysis.

So has the Governor.

They have done their job well.

If the General Assembly would only do the same, we could end this budget mess and get on with the business of building the future Virginians deserve.


::: posted by Norman Leahy at 6/12/2006 1 comments





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