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Public Statements

Deal Signs Budget, Issues Veto Statements

Interview

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Location: Washington, DC

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that he has signed the 2012 budget, and he has vetoed eight general bills and one piece of local legislation.

"Working together, the General Assembly and I crafted a conservative budget that reduced the size of government, funded our state's education, health care, transportation and public safety priorities and avoided any tax increases," Deal said. "Georgians can be proud of the great work done this year by their legislators."

HB 78 -- FY 2012 Appropriations Bill

Line-Item Vetoes by the Governor

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 224, line 379.605:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $667,680 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the University System of Georgia, Board of Regents, specifically to construct the initial phase of the Health Science Building, Valdosta State University, Lowndes County through the issuance of $7,800,000 in 20-year bonds. The authorized funding is insufficient, providing only a partial amount needed to complete the planned construction. Therefore, I veto this language (page 224, line 379.605) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $667,680.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 225, line 379.610:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $273,920 in debt service to finance the design of the Science Learning Center for the University of Georgia, Clarke County through the issuance of $3,200,000 in 20-year bonds. Projects authorized for design only should not be funded with 20-year bonds. The design is short-term limited-life and does not result in a physical asset. The state's priority should be to fund construction for existing projects for which we have already paid for the design. Therefore, I veto this language (page 225, line 379.610) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $273,920.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 226, line 379.618:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $847,440 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the University System of Georgia, Board of Regents, specifically to construct initial phase of a new science building at Clayton State University, Clayton County through the issuance of $9,900,000 in 20-year bonds. The authorized funding is insufficient, providing only a partial amount needed to complete the planned construction. Therefore, I veto this language (page 226, line 379.618) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $847,440.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 226, line 379.623:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $419,012 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the University System of Georgia, Board of Regents, specifically to fund major repairs and renovations at Ennis Hall, Georgia College and State University, Baldwin County through the issuance of $4,895,000 in 20-year bonds. The authorized funding is insufficient, providing only a partial amount needed to complete the planned construction. Therefore, I veto this language (page 226, line 379.623) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $419,012.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 227, line 379.624:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $691,220 in debt service to finance projects and facilities for the University System of Georgia, Board of Regents, specifically to construct initial phase of an Academic Building, Dalton College, Whitfield County through the issuance of $8,075,000 in 20-year bonds. The authorized funding is insufficient, providing only a partial amount needed to complete the planned construction. Therefore, I veto this language (page 227, line 379.624) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $691,220.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 228, line 379.660:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $102,720 in debt service to finance the design of an academic building for Altamaha Technical College, Camden County through the issuance of $1,200,000 in 20-year bonds. Projects authorized for design only should not be funded with 20-year bonds. The design is short-term limited-life and does not result in a physical asset. The state's priority should be to fund construction for existing projects for which we have already paid for the design. Therefore, I veto this language (page 228, line 379.660) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $102,720.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 228, line 379.661:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $188,320 in debt service to finance the design of the Public Safety/Allied Health and Economic Development Building for Lanier Technical College, Hall County through the issuance of $2,200,000 in 20-year bonds. Projects authorized for design only should not be funded with 20-year bonds. The design is short-term limited-life and does not result in a physical asset. The state's priority should be to fund construction for existing projects for which we have already paid for the design. Therefore, I veto this language (page 228, line 379.661) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $188,320.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 228, line 379.662:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $50,504 in debt service to finance the design of the Health Services/Library for Southeastern Technical College, Emanuel County through the issuance of $590,000 in 20-year bonds. Projects authorized for design only should not be funded with 20-year bonds. The design is short-term limited-life and does not result in a physical asset. The state's priority should be to fund construction for existing projects for which we have already paid for the design. Therefore, I veto this language (page 228, line 379.662) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $50,504.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 228, line 379.663:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $256,800 in debt service to finance the design of the Gwinnett Technical College, North Fulton Campus in Johns Creek, Fulton County through the issuance of $3,000,000 in 20-year bonds. Projects authorized for design only should not be funded with 20-year bonds. The design is short-term limited-life and does not result in a physical asset. The state's priority should be to fund construction for existing projects for which we have already paid for the design. Therefore, I veto this language (page 228, line 379.663) 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 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 229, line 379.664:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $62,488 in debt service to finance the design of the Natural Resources Building, Ogeechee Technical College, Bulloch County through the issuance of $730,000 in 20-year bonds. Projects authorized for design only should not be funded with 20-year bonds. The design is short-term limited-life and does not result in a physical asset. The state's priority should be to fund construction for existing projects for which we have already paid for the design. Therefore, I veto this language (page 229, line 379.664) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $62,488.

Section 51, pertaining to State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, page 229, line 379.666:

This language authorizes the appropriation of $85,600 in debt service to finance the design of the Health Services Center, Middle Georgia Technical College, Houston County through the issuance of $1,000,000 in 20-year bonds. Projects authorized for design only should not be funded with 20-year bonds. The design is short-term limited-life and does not result in a physical asset. The state's priority should be to fund construction for existing projects for which we have already paid for the design. Therefore, I veto this language (page 229, line 379.666) in the provisions relative to Section 51 State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund and the state general funds of $85,600.

General Legislation

Veto Number 1

SB 19 -- Coin Operated Amusement

Senate Bill 19 attempts to provide much needed clarity to a statute that often leads to murky interpretations and unintended results. On close review, this legislation would expand the reward categories for those who play Class A machines and attempts to clarify the term "gift certificate" that exists in current law. In addition, this legislation attempts to clarify for prosecutors that so-called internet sweepstakes cafes are illegal and subject to prosecution for violating Georgia's prohibition on gambling. I am vetoing this legislation because I do not believe SB 19 provides sufficient clarity or enforcement powers to shut down internet cafes and I also find that the modifications to the current Class A and Class B classifications of coin operated machines could lead to unintended consequences. I look forward to signing legislation in the near future that would more forcefully address these significant concerns. Accordingly, I VETO SB 19.

Veto Number 2

SB 58 -- Indemnification

Senate Bill 58 removes from the code the separate and lower levels of indemnification provided for injured or deceased state highway employees and also changes the current law on determining who qualifies as a "dependent" for purposes of determining who would be entitled to such indemnification monies. This week, I signed HB 156 which also places our state highway employees on equal footing with other public safety officers covered by O.C.G.A. § 45-9-85. However, I VETO Senate Bill 58 because of the change to the current definition of "dependent" for the purpose of determining who is entitled to the indemnification payments. Changing the definition of dependent has the potential of broadening the pool of individuals who could recover from this already limited fund. The current law provides that for a person to be a "dependent of the deceased covered employee or such employees' spouse, the person must have been included as a dependent on the most recent tax return filed by the deceased covered employees or such covered employees spouse." SB 58 would remove this bright line test and, instead, leave the determination of who qualifies as a dependent to "the rules and regulations of the department subject to the approval of the commission." The original intent of this program was to provide some additional funds to the people truly dependent on the state employees' income when an injury or death interrupted the otherwise steady income stream. This bill has the potential to broaden the definition of "dependent", which departs from the original concept of state indemnification. Accordingly, I VETO SB 58.

Veto Number 3

SB 86 -- Qualified Local Governments/Certified Retirement Communities

Senate Bill 86 attempts to address concerns of smaller cities and counties regarding the expense of developing and maintaining plans in order to obtain certification for "Qualified Local Government" status. While I am sympathetic to the desires of cities and counties to more easily attain such status, the Department of Community Affairs through the promulgation of its own internal rules and regulations, is already attempting to meet their needs. Accordingly, I do not believe this bill is necessary and therefore, I VETO SB 86.

Veto Number 4

SB 96 -- Peace Officer Standards

Senate Bill 96 changes the definition of "Peace officer" in Chapter 17 of Title 47 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated relating to the Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund. At the request of the author, I VETO SB 96.

Veto Number 5

SB 140 -- GHEFA

Senate Bill 140 removes the $200 million cap for revenue bonds and allows the Board to issue revenue bonds that they determine are self-liquidating. This legislation defines self-liquidating as revenues derived from the project itself as well as revenue allowed under O.C.G.A. § 10-9-49(g) to be used as security for revenue bonds. Of note, this legislation was not requested by the Georgia World Congress Center. Removing the $200 million cap introduces operational risk and the determination of self-liquidating is, at best, ambiguous. I did favor the underlying bill that allows the Board to make the determination on the amount of revenue bonds to issue, but as amended, does not allow for sufficient Executive and Legislative branch input into that decision. Accordingly, I VETO SB 140.

Veto Number 6

SB 163 -- Campaign Communication Disclosures

Senate Bill 163 attempts to address the issue of campaign communications in campaigns for state or local office that apparently have failed to provide sufficient clarity on who paid for the communication and whether a candidate authorized such communication. The issue of campaign finance reform has been a consistent theme in Washington, DC and federal court decisions have shown that any type of limitation on the First Amendment right to engage in political speech will receive tough scrutiny. See Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010). Such tough scrutiny would be especially likely where a violation of limitations on political speech would constitute a crime - as this legislation provides. It is my assessment that, while the legislation is well intended, the potential vagueness in what constitutes "general public political advertising or literature" and "any colorable imitation of the name of an existing person or organization" would constitute significant First Amendment concerns. Furthermore, as has been the case at the federal level, this legislation would likely add significant operational burdens to producing and distributing campaign messages in the variety of mediums that candidates and citizens now use to engage in political speech. Accordingly, I VETO SB 163.

Veto Number 7

HB 226 -- Council on Developmental Disabilities

House Bill 226 provides for the creation of individual development accounts to be used by any person whose income is the lesser of 80 percent of the median household income for the area or whose income is less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The funds paid into such an account (which could not exceed $60,000) would be considered custodial accounts and would not be counted as income, assets, or resources of the account holder for the purpose of determining financial eligibility for assistance or services from any federal, federally assisted, state or municipal program based on need. The goal of this legislation is noble in that it seeks to assist those with significant needs like those with a developmental disability. However, this legislation is not narrowly tailored to actually help those with significant and distinct needs, rather it is open for use by any person who meets the income criteria. Furthermore, the criteria for what expenses these accounts may be used to pay for is overly broad and the oversight for how these accounts would be managed is inadequate. I welcome an opportunity to revisit the creation of this type of account next year and create the account in a more narrowly tailored manner that would focus more directly on the populations in Georgia who need assistance in caring for themselves in the community. Accordingly, I VETO HB 226.

Veto Number 8

HB 489 -- Medicaid Recovery Audit Contractor

House Bill 489 seeks to prohibit the State of Georgia from compensating any Medicaid recovery audit contractor with a percentage of the overpayment amounts collected by the contractor. Since Federal law, specifically 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(42), requires all state Medicaid programs to have a recovery audit contractor program whereby payments to the contractors "shall be made on a contingent basis for collecting overpayments," the implementation of HB 489 would result in Georgia's Medicaid program being out of compliance with federal law, which would put at risk billions of dollars in Federal medical assistance funding to the State because Federal Medicaid funds are not available to state Medicaid programs that are out of compliance with the Federal Medicaid state plan requirements, such as the ones found in 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(42). HB 489 would also significantly impair Georgia's ability to detect and deter fraud and abuse within its Medicaid program because it would eliminate an effective option of detecting overpayments. I encourage legislators to help strengthen our capabilities to reduce the prevalence of fraud and abuse in all taxpayer-funded programs next session, and so I VETO HB 489.

Local Legislation

Veto Number 9

HB 602 -- Bacon County Board of Elections

House Bill 602 would reconstitute and change the composition of the board of elections and registration for Bacon County to a one member board. A one member county board of elections conflicts with O.C.G.A. § 21-2-212, and thus, I VETO HB 602.


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