Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, says Gov. Butch Otter’s line-item veto last year of funds for a legislative computer upgrade was in retaliation for a legislative trim in a DFM budget item. “The governor didn’t like it, because there’s a long history,” Cameron said, that the two branches leave each other’s budgets for such items alone. “As retribution, he vetoed the computers,” Cameron said. In addition to the actual laptops that lawmakers use, the line-item veto covered funds for staff to maintain the legislative computer system and software. “We chose to let it lie, because we could handle it with existing resources,” Cameron said, “rather than override” the veto. Lawmakers can override a governor’s veto by a two-thirds vote in each house. “Sure we could have, if leadership had wanted to,” Cameron said. “We could have, and in hindsight, we probably should have.”
He said of the renewed dispute, “It’s silly and it’s petty, and it’s the wrong way to start a budget session. There are a hundred, maybe even a thousand issues that we’re going to have to handle, and to pick a scab off a wound from last year is foolishness, in my opinion.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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