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Gov. Deal signs Georgia budget, issues vetoes

Posted: May 7, 2012 - 3:11pm

From Staff Reports

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Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal today signed into law the 2013 budget, according to a press release issued by his office.

“Together with the General Assembly, we have enacted a budget that holds the line on spending, while investing in the priorities that will contribute to making Georgia the No. 1 place in the country to do business and create jobs – and continue our high quality of life,” said Deal.

Here are the budget highlights listed in the governor’s statement:

• With the deduction of the line-item vetoes, the FY 2013 budget for state funds, effective July 1, is $19,341,669,543.

• The FY 2013 budget is $837.9 million, or 4.5 percent, larger than the final FY 2012 budget, though much of that increase reflects costs expanded by population growth.

FY 2013 remains $1.8 billion, or 8.6 percent, under the original FY 2009 budget of $21.2 billion, which was the state’s highest budget passed to-date.

• When adjusted for inflation, per capita spending in the FY 2013 budget is comparable to FY 1994 spending levels. (FY 2013: $1,971)(FY 1994: $1,954)

• As of the end of December, the size of the state workforce is lower than it has been in more than 14 years. Since the beginning of the economic downturn in FY 2008, the state workforce has been reduced by 12.4 percent as part of overall cost savings measures to balance the budget to reduced revenues.

• The Revenue Shortfall Reserve is now $328.4 million as of the end of the last fiscal year, June 30, 2011. This is a 183 percent increase over its level at the end of FY 2010.

In addition to the announcement, the governor’s office also issued a statement explaining reasons for various agencies to disregard language lawmakers inserted in the budget regarding spending priorities, listing the reasons for Deal’s line-item vetoes:

Intent Language Considered Non-Binding

• Section 17, pertaining to the Department of Community Health, page 38, Line 1175:

The General Assembly seeks to appropriate $50,000 for the Southeastern Firefighters’ Burn Foundation, Inc. in the Health Care Access and Improvement program. The purpose of the Health Care Access and Improvement program is to improve health care access and outcomes in rural and underserved areas of Georgia. Some aspects of this initiative are outside the scope of the purpose of the Health Care Access and Improvement program. Therefore, the Department is authorized to operate the program in accordance with the purpose of the program and the general law powers of the Department.

• Section 17, pertaining to the Department of Community Health, page 39, line 1219:

The General Assembly seeks to instruct the Department to implement a wastage policy to reimburse for cancer treatment single-dose vials administered in a physician’s office. The funds provided are insufficient to implement this policy as of the effective date stated. Additionally, limiting the application of the reimbursement policy to cancer drugs may not be operationally feasible. Therefore, the Department is authorized to utilize the funds in accordance with the purpose of the program and the general law powers of the Department.

• Section 17, pertaining to the Department of Community Health, page 41, line 1276:

The General Assembly seeks to instruct the Department to restore the bariatric surgery benefit in the State Health Benefit Plan, effective January 1, 2013. This language limits the Department’s ability to effectively manage the State Health Benefit Plan and control expenses. Therefore, the Department is authorized to determine benefits covered under the State Health Benefit Plan pursuant to the direction of the Board of Community Health and in accordance with the purpose of the program and the general law powers of the Department.

• Section 27, pertaining to the Department of Human Services, page 84, line 2627:

The General Assembly seeks to appropriate $50,000 for KidsPeace in the Out-of-Home Care program. This appropriation circumvents the Department’s process for reimbursing vendors and creates a variance between vendors providing similar services. Therefore, the Department is authorized to utilize the funds in accordance with the purpose of the program and the general law powers of the Department.

• Section 33, pertaining to the Department of Natural Resources, page 104, line 3262:

The General Assembly seeks to appropriate $150,000 for the Georgia Water Policy Center in southwest Georgia in the Environmental Protection program. Funding for water initiatives should be prioritized in consideration of statewide water needs rather than regionally focused. Therefore, the Department is authorized to utilize these funds for its highest priority needs and in accordance with the purpose of the program and the general law powers of the Department.

• Section 40, pertaining to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents page 126, line 3969:

The General Assembly seeks to appropriate $50,000 for industrial storm water solutions for Georgia’s poultry industry in the Georgia Tech Research Institute program. The Georgia Tech Research Institute has sufficient funding to undertake this research without an additional appropriation. Therefore, the Department is authorized to undertake this research using agency generated funding in lieu of state appropriations.

• Section 40, pertaining to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents page 130, line 4075:

The General Assembly seeks to appropriate $25,000 for the Southern Legislative Conference’s (SLC) Center for Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS) program at Georgia State University in the Teaching program. The purpose of the Teaching program is to provide for direct student instruction or other initiatives supporting student learning. This initiative is outside the scope of the purpose of the Teaching program. Therefore, the Department is authorized to participate in the Southern Legislative Conference’s Center for Advancement of Leadership Skills program using agency generated funding in lieu of state appropriations.

• Section 48, pertaining to the Department of Transportation, page 154, line 4856:

The General Assembly seeks to appropriate $500,000 for airport aid grant funds for Airport Aid projects including Blairsville, Hampton, North Georgia Regional Airports, Americus, Bainbridge, Griffin, Rome and Valdosta. Grant funding for airport projects should be awarded on a competitive basis that maximizes all available funds and is in accordance with statewide priorities for air transportation. Therefore, the Department is authorized to utilize the funds in accordance with the purpose of the program and the general law powers of the Department.

Line-Item Vetoes

• Section 51, pertaining to the State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 167, line 5169:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $256,800 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, specifically for the renovation of the Rural Development Center at the University of Georgia Tifton campus, through the issuance of $3,000,000 in 20-year bonds. This project was not requested by the Board of Regents and was not identified as a priority in the Board of Regents capital plan. This project would create additional space in order to expand programming and enrollment at the Tifton campus. Projects impacting future enrollment in the University System should be vetted by the Board of Regents to ensure a strategic approach to enrollment growth at higher education institutions in Georgia. Therefore, I veto this language (page 167, line 5169) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $256,800.

• Section 51, pertaining to the State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 173, line 5225:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $133,476 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the Department of Transportation, specifically for upgrades and maintenance at the Riceboro Southern Railway bridges and railroad grade crossing signal crossbucks on the Georgia Southwestern Railroad and Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway, through the issuance of $1,470,000 in 20-year bonds. The Department has sufficient funding within existing authorized general obligation debt to provide for additional rail improvement projects. Funding for these rail projects should be considered in conjunction with other state rail needs, and projects should be selected by the Department based on the state’s highest priority needs. Therefore, I veto this language (page 173, line 5225) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $133,476.

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Comments (1)

stevearnold

Spend-Spend-Spend.

Seems that State Government spend as if there were no tomorrows either.
At some point we as a Nation and a State had better learn to live within our means.

Steve Arnold
Loganville, Ga.

Steve Arnold
Ga. 10th District Director
GFFT

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