Governor’s power too limited

Gubernatorial power — or the lack thereof — has been a debate ever since with the intensity based on who happens to be holding the office at the time.

Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, has changed the debate somewhat. He has not sought to rewrite the constitution or filed lawsuits exerting executive authority, but has done it the old-fashioned way of power politics with an new, partisan twist. He has been quite successful at increasing the power of the office.

But the constitution hasn’t changed and it still limits the governor.

The latest flare-up with the Legislature, which has a Democratic majority, is over gubernatorial vetoes, the extent of the power to veto line-item budget items. It is similar to the dispute that occurred with former Govs. Kirk Fordice and Ronnie Musgrove.

Barbour vetoed seven appropriations items. Attorney General Jim Hood, in an opinion, says two of those items overstep the governor’s authority because they deal with the conditions on how money is spent.

The courts have upheld Hood’s position. The governor cannot write law. Nor, can the governor “edit” appropriations amounts as Fordice sought to do.