There was a simpler time when the governor and the Legislature sparred about how to spend the several hundred million dollars in new revenue the state would bring in the following year. And the governor, in his role of looking out for the interests of the entire state regularly vetoed appropriations made by the legislature. And because there had never been veto overrides, life went on and legislators lived to fight another day.
Program budgeting and its focus on specific programs and the ability to drill down as never before into the inner workings of government, coupled with the unprecedented freefall in state revenues, necessarily brought the legislature into the policy and expenditure arena in an entirely new way. The necessity of cutting budgets continuously the past three years kept the legislature in the forefront of budget reductions and in some cases out ahead of the executive branch in finding reductions.
This past session, for the first time, the executive branch was negotiating to add new revenue to keep departments from being cut … a reversal of sorts. In fact, the veto message on appropriations centered more this year on departments being instructed to disregard cutting programs accompanying reductions in the budget. The veto message to departments was to disregard the direction of the cut in the budget bill but was vague beyond that instruction.
The $63 million or so in new revenue recognized by the governor in the waning moments of the 2010 session, was essentially used to restore cuts the legislature had made in departments such as Corrections, Juvenile Justice and others. What is frustrating to budget writers in the House and Senate is the fact that negotiations between the conference committee, legislative leaders and the governor restored virtually every department reduction as requested by the governor. So, with that knowledge, the governor’s instructions to disregard additional budget reductions, might be construed to undermine the agreements forged at the close of the session.
It is possible that the legislature will repeat actions it took several years ago during a previous veto language challenge and notify state departments that failure to follow the directions accompanying budget reductions could have repercussions in the 2011 amended budget.
Will legislature consider override of policy vetoes?
Additionally, since the present governor will not be in office when the legislature convenes, and the new governor would probably be uninterested, this may well be the year that both bodies of the legislature decide to override some vetoes just for a precedent-setting reason. This would also be a signal to the incoming governor of the legislature’s growing influence and joint power.
Many bills took effect July 1
There has been a good bit of publicity about new laws taking effect July 1 in areas like seatbelts in trucks, prohibitions against texting while driving and banning cell phone use by teenagers. But there are a number of other new laws as well. Here is a partial list:
SB 447 - requiring equal advantage for Georgia contractors in public contracts
HB 665 - Allowing electronic transmission of absentee ballots to deployed service members
HB 1073 - Allows deployed overseas service members to register to vote by write-in absentee ballot electronically
SB 238 - Allows present and former Governors to perform marriage ceremonies
HB 918 - Prohibits retiring state employees from returning under independent contract to state work in less than two months
HB 194 – Pharmacists must include information on drug label if substituting a generic and are to list the original prescribed drug and reason for
HB 207 – Prohibits off-road vehicle use in streambeds
HB 258 – For first time, under 21 drivers can get a temporary permit during suspension for a speeding ticket
HB 651 – Requires DOE to provide each school access to a list of all registered sex offenders
HB 923 – Extends time for “pipeline” teachers enrolled in leadership type postgraduate study to complete coursework. Masters; 2012, Specialists;
2013, Doctorate; 2014. After that, all would have to be in administrative position to draw an increase.
Need more info? Go to www.legis.ga.gov
I may be reached at
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E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
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