Gov. Sonny Perdue has line item veto powers on budgets passed by the General Assembly just as he has the power to veto legislation. In HB 948, the General Appropriations bill for the 2011 year, the governor vetoed some six projects that were included in the $860 million bond package.
The vetoes totaled $16.6 million dollars in bonds and removed $1,562,692 in debt service from the FY 2011 budget.
The vetoes included:
• $2,000,000 — for reconstruction of Clarkdale Elementary School that was damaged in the floods during the past year. The governor asserted there were federal emergency funds.
• $6,400,000 — for alleviating traffic congestion around Kennesaw State University. The governor found the project had not been vetted through the Department of Transportation.
• $4,700,000 for design of a humanities building at Georgia State University. The governor could not identify any funding to be provided by the university.
• $140,000 — for land acquisition for the library in Greene County. The governor asserted that land acquisition is a local responsibility.
• $740,000 — for the design of facilities on the Winder-Barrow campus of Lanier Technical College. The governor stated that the project was a
• $2,700,000 — for the expansion of a health classroom building on the Currahee campus of North Georgia College. The governor asserted the project was not on the Board of Regents’ priority list.
“Disregard” instructions from governor to agencies
The General Assembly, in an effort to balance the budget, made cuts throughout the budget and instructed state departments to take the cuts in certain areas. In other instances, language was put into the budget instructing agencies to utilize existing funds for certain activities. It is the governor’s contention that while a reduction in Appropriations cannot be vetoed, language for any purpose in the budget document is not binding.
The governor listed 15 line items in the FY 2011 budget where he instructed departments not to necessarily follow the directions in the appropriations document. Here is a list of the departments and the type items when he directed departments to ignore budget language.
Department of Behavioral Health — In two line items, language instructed DBH to restore funding for the Receiving Facility at Central State Hospital’s Powell Building. The governor directed the department to continue normal services notwithstanding these instructions.
Department of Community Affairs — The budget document appropriated $75,000 for the House of Mercy in Columbus for a special housing initiative. The governor did not veto the appropriation but instructed the Department to ignore the intent of the line item.
Department of Community Health —The budget document appropriated $600,000 to support air ambulance services relating to trauma in
Northwest Georgia. While the governor did not veto the funds, he instructed the department to provide air ambulance services in accordance with department regulations and funds.
The budget document appropriated $200,000 for a new residency program under the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce: Graduate Medical Education program directed to a new private osteopathic college. The governor did not veto the funds but directed the Board to ignore the instructions.
Language in three line items was added spelling out a specific inpatient and outpatient provider rate increase per the hospital fee bill passed by the Legislature. The governor instructed the department to make all provider decisions in accordance with CMS regulations and legislative intent.
Department of Education — Reductions in Appropriations Bill:
($636,264)-Eliminating payment for college SAT Prep Course.
($5,015,000)-Eliminating free PSAT Tests and AP Exams but providing two tests for low-income students.
($1,158,6991)-Eliminating CRCT Testing for grades 1 and 2.
($1,095,242)-Eliminating writing assessment for grades 3 and 4.
While the governor did not identify how to replace the cuts, he objected to the specific items being eliminated and instructed the department to disregard the language.
Department of Human Services — The legislature cut $3,162,258 and directed the Department to take the cuts in the region offices. The governor could not replace the funds but directed the department to take the cut at its discretion.
Department of Labor — The budget added $24,287 for the Georgia Talking Book Center for services to the blind through the Vocational Rehabilitation program. The governor did not veto the funds but left it open for the Department to determine how to spend the funds.
State Properties Commission — The budget directed the Commission to implement the comprehensive real estate plan and remit to the treasury $500,000 by selling off surplus property. The governor instructed SPC to disregard those instructions.
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