HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A state court sided with Gov. Ed Rendell yesterday in a dispute over his line-item vetoes. The ruling upheld Rendell's right to overrule lawmakers who wanted to restrict funding of abortion-related counseling for low-income women. The Commonwealth Court panel ruled 5-0 against top Republican leaders who accused Rendell, a Democrat, of misusing the line-item veto when he removed certain language in the 2005-06 budget bill. Rendell also deleted a requirement that the state police hold hearings and give public notice of barracks closings and cut a $1.5 million pilot program to widen some highway markings from 4 to 6 inches. If the Legislature disagrees with such vetoes, it should attempt to override them rather than file a lawsuit, the court said in dismissing the case filed in September by House Speaker John M. Perzel and Senate President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer. "The governor's powers of disapproval are no less extensive than, and are entirely coexistent with, the General Assembly's power to enact legislation in the first place," wrote President Judge James Gardner Colins. "In other words, if the General Assembly can put it in, the governor can take it out." State funding, under a long-standing agreement, is split between groups such as Planned Parenthood and organizations that promote alternatives to abortion. The state's Medical Assistance Program provides public funding only for abortions involving victims of rape or incest or cases where the mother's life is at risk. State family planning subsidies that go to places that provide abortions are not supposed to be spent on any abortion-related activity. The governor vetoed language that would have prevented additional federal dollars that the administration is currently pursuing from going for abortion-related services, said Rendell press secretary Kate Philips. "We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that when pro-life conservatives are trying to move their agenda, they also block very valuable services to a lot of people who need them," Philips said. Philips said the court ruling demonstrated "how frivolous these lawsuits have become, when one political party isn't getting its way." Perzel spokesman Al Bowman said that Rendell's vetoes have circumvented the democratic and legislative processes. "One of the impacts in this case is that money, state money, is now going to be allowed to support abortions, abortion counseling," Bowman said. "That's a scary thought from our standpoint."

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