Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Beebe’s weak pen

Gov. Mike Beebe wielded his veto pen more infrequently than nearly every governor of modern times. He killed four relatively minor bills.

That could mean that he and others did a very good job of stanching the plentiful bad legislation while it was en route through the legislature or else he missed some things. We will have to see.

He deserves commendation for vetoing two local bills that clearly conflicted with the constitutional prohibition against local and special legislation: a dab of money reappropriated from 2005 for the Lake Village Fire Department and a larger sum to remodel a private facility in Siloam Springs for a cerebral palsy program. That will save Mike Wilson the trouble of suing to stop the misuse of tax funds.

We fear there are many other appropriations that violate the law but are better disguised as spending of statewide import. We entrust them to Wilson’s eagle eye.

It was Wilson’s lawsuit last year that focused the legislature’s and governor’s attention on the illegal spending. He has saved tens of millions of dollars for the schools and other needy state pursuits.

Beebe also vetoed a bill that would have allowed Forrest City and St. Francis County to issue public debt to build shopping centers and other commercial retail buildings. It has become popular to burden the taxpayers, even if only in theory, with the cost of helping private developers. This one was clearly illegal. The Constitution spells it out in black and white that you just cannot create public debt for shopping centers or anyplace “engaged in the sale of food or goods at retail.”

Beebe had said that he would veto any bill of any nature if he doubted its constitutionality. Good policy, governor.