Friday, March 21, 2008

Governor Perdue Signs Amended FY08 Budget

Today Governor Sonny Perdue signed into law HB 989, the Amended FY08 budget, and exercised his line-item veto authority to eliminate non-critical spending. Pointing to a softening economy and slowing revenue figures, Governor Perdue expressed concern that this budget exceeds his revised revenue projection.

“This is a budget that funds the critical needs of our growing state including trauma care, education and water reservoirs,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “The good news is that it is virtually free of special-interest earmarks. However, a $65 million reduction in spending would have been a prudent first step in addressing the reality of our softening economy.”

In response to the slowing growth of state revenue collections in the second half of FY 2008, Governor Perdue recommended a $65 million reduction in the state’s revenue projection on March 10, 2008. The AFY08 budget passed by the General Assembly does not account for the $65 million reduction in the state’s revenue estimate, and instead reached into the state’s reserves to fund this additional spending.

For FY 2008, the state’s economist, Kenneth Heaghney, projects revenue collections will drop $189 million from the initial estimate, and the FY 2009 revenues will fall $396 million short of the initial FY 2009 estimate. Citing our state’s healthy reserve fund, Governor Perdue indicated a willingness to use a combination of reserves and spending reductions to ensure a balanced budget. Therefore, Governor Perdue only reduced the FY 2008 revenue estimate by $65 million and the FY 2009 projection by $245 million.

Governor Perdue exercised his line-item veto by eliminating additional funds for the North Central Law Enforcement Academy and eliminated language included in the budget regarding pre-Kindergarten slots.

Vetoed items and messages are below:

Line-Item Vetoes by the Governor

Section 37, pertaining to the Department of Public Safety, page 124, item 290.101:

The General Assembly seeks to earmark $250,000 for the North Central Law Enforcement Academy within the Field Offices and Services program. This appropriation seeks to increase the $271,952 annual contract currently between the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and the Cobb County Commission by 92%. Other contracts for regional law enforcement academies are for the same amount, and a 92% increase for the North Georgia Law Enforcement Academy would create significant inequities with the other regional law enforcement academies. As I stated last year regarding the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget, increases for law enforcement academies should be managed on a fair and equitable basis for all academies. Therefore, I veto this appropriation.

Section 20, pertaining to the Department of Early Care and Learning, page 49, item 106.100:

The General Assembly seeks to limit the number of Pre-K slots in the purpose statement of the Pre-Kindergarten program by inclusion of the following language: “This appropriation shall provide funds for no more than 77,775 slots.” While the Department is currently managing for and expecting utilization of fewer than 77,775 slots, any limitation on the number of slots available is a matter to be determined pursuant to general law and not through an appropriation. Therefore, I have instructed the Department to comply strictly with the appropriation limit while understanding that the slot limit is not operative. I remain willing to engage in discussion of this issue through the general law legislative process.
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