Rick Perry and informal veto power

An interesting post yesterday from the Houston Chronicle’s Peggy Fikac.  Basically her point is to show that the governor, who is constitutionally in a weak position, holds great power through the veto.  It’s a good refresher for those who’ve been out of high school or college government courses for a while.

Fikac highlights three bills that Perry killed by publicly stating he would veto them:  the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP–and yes, for those of you keeping score at home, Texas is still the worst in the country at insuring its children), an urban-area gasoline tax (to help fund local transportation projects) and the media’s darling, $555 million in unemployment insurance (which the Senate voted to accept).

Depending on where you stand on these issues, you’re probably happy these bills didn’t have to come down to a formal veto or you’re angry that Perry killed them before they even got to fruition.  Either way, he’s made a career of governing in this manner.

Obviously this method is effective, but I wonder if there’s a better way? If the governor were more actively involved with legislators in crafting bills, these 11th hour warnings would be unecessary.  Or if he had clearly-stated positions on important bills from the start, lawmakers could work with him (if both the legislature and governor are willing) on producing compromises.

Voters, and particularly Texans because of how short our legislative session is, are frustrated by “do-nothing” elected bodies.  A governor’s office that’s more accessible and cooperative could help turn do-nothings into do-somethings.


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