Governors' Lessons in the Art of the Line-Item Veto Clinton's Use Marks a First for Presidents, but Power Is Not New to Many State Executives

By Skip Thurman, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 1997 | Go to article overview

Governors' Lessons in the Art of the Line-Item Veto Clinton's Use Marks a First for Presidents, but Power Is Not New to Many State Executives


Skip Thurman, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


For an American president, Bill Clinton's line-item veto this week was a first, but many of the nation's governors have been striking lines from state budgets for years.

Forty-three states have laws that allow their chief executives to strike individual items from spending bills. The veto is a tool that has become embedded in their political cultures - and many state experts say Washington can learn a thing or two from their use of it.

What Mr. Clinton can look forward to is a changed dynamic in Washington power sharing. He may have increased leverage in budget discussions, whether or not he uses line-item authority. Yet at the state level, legislators have often become savvy at finding ways to exempt projects from the governor's veto. In Texas, for instance, Gov. George W. Bush has to veto almost the entire budget to strike a single item. "He has to do all of it or none of it," explains spokeswoman Karen Hughes. "For example, he might get an appropriation for the entire University of Texas, not just one or two spending item requests within the university." The ability to excise individual tax or spending items within legislation is a power that presidents have wanted for decades. When Bill Clinton crossed out three items in the just-passed budget, it thus marked a historic first for the presidency. It wasn't an entirely new act to him personally, however. He vetoed more than 20 spending items during his years as governor of Arkansas. In terms of frequency, Clinton's use of the state line-item veto was near the median. Many governors employ it far less, striking only egregious pork-barrel items. Others use it as a thick billy club of governance. Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson uses it, on average, more than 100 times a year. Frequency of veto use depends partly on extent of veto power. Governor Thompson has broad authority that allows him to strike even single characters off the page. Thompson once struck a single digit to alter a $500,000 dollar appropriation, reducing it to $50,000. "I wouldn't have been able to balance the budget" without this veto power, Thompson says. The conservative reformer has long argued that voters want a strong governor with the ability to cut "pork" from budgets, and so far voters have backed him, reelecting him to three terms by ever-increasing margins. At least one other Midwestern governor agrees that the line-item veto is of great utility. "I have exercised veto power over the last three sessions on 38 occasions," says Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating. Oklahoma's governors have been armed with the authority since statehood in 1907. "It has been an effective tool at the budget table and an excellent way to identify and pare down unnecessary spending," says Governor Keating. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Governors' Lessons in the Art of the Line-Item Veto Clinton's Use Marks a First for Presidents, but Power Is Not New to Many State Executives
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.