Columbian editorial: “Inslee veto ruling underscores checks, balances”

The Columbian editorial board weighs in on the recent state Supreme Court ruling that the governor overstepped in 2019 when he vetoed provisions of transportation legislation. The editorial states,

This week’s rebuke of Gov. Jay Inslee by the state Supreme Court is not a matter of politics. It is an important example of the checks and balances that allow the American system of government to function.

On Wednesday, the court ruled 7-2 that Inslee had overstepped his veto authority in striking a sentence that appeared seven times in a 2019 transportation budget passed by the Legislature.

And, the editorial board agrees with those – including us – who believe the ruling has implications for the governor’s more recent vetoes.

The decision could play a role in a controversy over line-item vetoes Inslee used this year. In May, he angered lawmakers of both parties by striking parts of a carbon-cap program and a bill on clean-fuels standards. The vetoes concerned language that said those bills would not take effect until the Legislature approved a new transportation-funding package — part of a “grand bargain” lawmakers struck to ensure the climate change measures had enough support to pass.

The outcome of a challenge to the “grand bargain” veto is not certain; lawmakers have yet to file suit. As the editorial concludes, the principles involved are important.

It is all part of a system of checks and balances that is a foundation of American government.

The Legislature should guard its powers.