* Editor's note: This story was updated on July 24 to include a comment from House Speaker Joe Straus.
The squabbling over Gov. Greg Abbott’s budget vetoes continued Thursday, with a fresh news release from the lieutenant governor responding to a spokesman for the speaker of the Texas House, who was responding to an earlier news release from the lieutenant governor.
To refresh your memory, the Legislative Budget Board, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus, sent a 14-page memo to Comptroller Glenn Hegar this week questioning the legality of some of Abbott’s line-item vetoes in the state budget.
Some $200 million in spending is in question, and there is a technical and legal issue — whether a governor can use a veto in that way — and a political one, too, which is whether the governor or the Legislature has the upper hand on such issues.
The LBB memo sides with the Legislature. The governor, not surprisingly, sides with the governor. And so does Patrick, who said earlier this week that he disagrees with the LBB’s reading. A spokesman for Straus said earlier this week that the LBB wrote the memo at the comptroller’s request and that aides to the speaker and to the lieutenant governor instructed them to write one.
In his latest news release, Patrick is stepping out to emphasize his disagreement, and to suggest that maybe Straus disagrees, too:
The Lt. Governor's office did not initiate this issue. The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) expressed concerns about this matter. We told them to present their analysis to us for our review. The Governor's office did not agree with their analysis and our position was that we can continue to discuss this matter during the interim. We decided that it did not merit a letter.
The Lt. Governor's staff informed the LBB Director that while she was free to write a letter in response to the Comptroller's request, we would not sign on.
The Speaker's Office obviously decided not to sign on either.
Straus said in a statement:
My colleagues and I share Governor Abbott's commitment to fiscal discipline and accountability in the Texas budget. The discussion that has been taking place about vetoes is about nothing more than the proper roles of the legislative and executive branches in the budget process.