Capitol Alert

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Updated at 11:50 a.m. with the governor's response

A coalition of advocates representing the disabled and disadvantaged has filed a second lawsuit against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the nearly $500 million in cuts he made to the budget revision using his line-item veto authority.

The move follows a decision by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, to personally sue the governor on the grounds that he overstepped his constitutional authority by vetoing provisions in the package that were revisions to past appropriations, not appropriations themselves. St. John's Well Child and Family Center et al. v. Schwarzenegger et al,, which was set to be announced today at a 10 a.m. press conference in Los Angeles, also argues an abuse of power by Schwarzenegger.

Read the writ, filed yesterday, here.

Disability Rights Advocates attorney Kasey Corbit, co-counsel for plaintiffs, said her clients chose to file their own suit because they believe their constituencies - namely the disabled, impoverished, sick and victims of domestic abuse and violence - should be directly represented in the courts.

"It's about trying to get the vital resources back to the communities who can't survive without them," she said.

While Steinberg's suit is filed in the San Francisco Superior Court, the advocacy groups filed their petition in the State Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

"Ultimately, what would happen, if it went to the trial court, it would get appealed to the Court of Appeals... so we think it's much faster just to skip that step," Corbit said. "It's possible [that the appellate court would decide not to hear the case], but we don't think it's likely that the Court of Appeals would say we don't have original jurisdiction and bounce us back to the trial court."

The suit also seeks an injunction to immediately restore the funding Schwarzenegger sought to cut. Like in the Steinberg suit, State Controller John Chiang is named as a defendant as a formality, because he holds the authority to disburse appropriated funds.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor's cuts were legal and prompted by the legislature passing a budget revision that fell about $1.1 billion short. He added that the governor is "standing firm" against any attempts to restore the cuts by raising taxes.

"The governor absolutely has the authority to veto appropriations just as he and every governor has done every year," he said. "[These cuts] would not be necessary if the legislature had not failed to send the governor a balanced budget."


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