Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee heard a report from David Rosenberg and Mark Vucci, Senior Attorneys with Legislative Services, regarding what power the Governor would have in the event of a failure on the part of the legislative branch to produce a budget by June 30.
I believe they presented the case most to the advantage of the legislative branch – indicating that the Governor would have no power to spend funds. Among the “Key Take Aways” was the statement, “In the absence of an appropriations law, the Governor could declare an emergency but moneys will not be available to address the emergency conditions.”
I’m a bit skeptical of this view. Should the Governor declare an emergency and keep the jails in operation and keep the State Police on duty to protect public safety, would the Supreme Court rule against him? I think not.
They also offered a very narrow interpretation of Article 10, Section 7, presenting a view that the ”two years and six months” has already expired. I’m thinking that this will be subject to the interpretation of the courts.
The one thing that they said that I know to be true is that if a budget is not produced we will be in uncharted waters.
Equally sobering was the assessment from Secretary of Finance Richard D. Brown when he was asked how failure to produce a budget might affect Virginia’s bond rating: “If we go past June 30th it puts us in a different posture with them [bond rating agencies]. If we go past June 30th it will change the perspective from which they view Virginia.”
All this talk of uncharted waters leads me to reject Santayana’s “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” in favor of Allen Ginsberg’s “There is nothing to be learned from history anymore. We’re in science fiction now.”