He also vetoed eight bills, ranging from coin-operated games to campaign disclosures. One bill dealing with peace officer pensions he vetoed at the request of the author.
“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 in a statement from his office. “Georgians can be proud of the great work done this year by their legislators.”
Since the legislature adjourned last month, the governor has mentioned in his speeches to various groups his pride in cutting the nearly $2 billion in expired federal stimulus funds out of the state’s budget without having to raise taxes to fill the gap.
Lawmakers essentially approved the budget recommendations he sent them at the start of the legislative session. However, they did add projects to the bond package.
All 11 of the projects he stopped with his line-item vetoes were funded with borrowing through the sale of bonds.
He nixed four because they didn’t include large enough appropriations to cover the full cost of the buildings. The other seven he spiked because the bonds were to be sold to pay for the buildings’ designs, and he said debt should be limited to physical assets like roads and buildings that are expected to be used after the 20-year bonds are repaid. Two examples include the design of the Science Learning Center at the University of Georgia’s Athens campus and the design of an academic building at Altamaha Technical College in Camden County.
One of the projects axed was for a technical college in his home county.
Among the legislation he torpedoed is Senate Bill 19 by Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, that sought to give prosecutors more power to break up small casinos that pose as Internet cafes. The bill would have changed some legal definitions that Deal acknowledge lead to what he called “murky interpretations and unintended results.”
But he said the bill isn’t clear enough and could accidentally expand gambling instead of shutting it down.
“I look forward to signing legislation in the near future that would more forcefully address these significant concerns,” he wrote in his veto message.
Deal also halted another Hill measure concerning coin-operated games used in gambling over vagueness, too, SB 19.
Another veto allows candidates to continue distributing fliers and signs without listing who paid for them. Deal’s rejection of SB 163 by one his own floor leaders, Sen. Jim Butterworth, R-Clarksville, also permits anonymous ads and signs supporting or attacking candidates.
Good-government groups urged passage of the bill to require disclosure of who’s behind campaign communication. It passed in a session when a Senate leader was accused of sending smear e-mails to reporters and activists around the state under a fake name.
Deal said he opposed the bill because courts examining it would find the penalty for violations an excessive interference in the public’s right to free speech.
“Such tough scrutiny would be especially likely where a violation of limitations on political speech would constitute a crime - as this legislation provides,” he wrote.
A bill that local governments had lobbied for as a way to save time and money wound up a victim of the governor’s veto pen. SB 86, by freshman Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, would have removed the requirement that local governments draft comprehensive land-use plans.
Ginn convinced his colleagues that, based on his experience as a former city manager, he knew few of the plans were ever used other than to comply with the state requirement.
Deal said he sympathized with the goal of saving money but said he could address the cost through regulation rather than a law change.