Restores Veto Funding with Budget Increases
In an apparent effort to correct his veto mistakes of last year, Governor Keating is restoring vetoed funding to a number of agencies in his fiscal year 1998 executive budget. However, instead of restoring the vetoed funding through the traditional supplemental appropriation method, Keating is attempting to conceal the corrective measure by lumping the money in the agency's overall budget for the next fiscal year.
"I'm glad Governor Keating has finally admitted his vetoes were a mistake. I just wish he would try to do all the budget adjustments up front and in public instead of trying to hide them," said Senator Kelly Haney, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"Concealing them does provide the Governor some political cover, I suppose. It makes it look like he's giving more money to important agencies, vo-tech for example, when he's really just replacing funds he vetoed last year."
Governor Keating vetoed more than $20 million in appropriations at the end of last session, saying the state needed to save money because an economic downturn was on the horizon. Keating and finance adviser Tom Daxon predicted the state would face a budget shortfall of as much as $100 million this year, but no budget shortfall ever materialized. In fact, revenue collections are expected to run more than $200 million in the black.
"Their budget projections were way off the mark and because of that, Governor Keating made some bad veto decisions. The vetoes caused a lot of damage, from slowing down death penalty cases to hindering ethics investigations to delaying construction of a new prison facility. The Governor is apparently trying to repair some of that damage in his new budget," noted Senator Haney.
In the Governor's executive budget, he proposed increases for such entities as the Attorney General, the Auditor and Inspector, the Ethics Commission, OCAST, the Fire Marshall, the Teachers Preparation Commission, the Tax Commission and the Poison Control Center.
Those agencies share one thing in common: all had their budgets cut by Governor Keating's veto pen. Some of the proposed increases are almost identical to the amount of funding that was vetoed.
Vetoed Funds Budget Increase (proposed)
$975,000 $1.5 million
Teacher Prep Comm.
$1.5 million $1.9 million
$1.8 million $2.3 million
$3.0 million $5.4 million
$2.2 million $5.2 million
$300,000 $290,000 (line item)
"Eight months ago, the Governor said those agencies could easily absorb the budget cuts his vetoes caused. Now, he's proposing that they all get a budget increase.
"He's using a little budget sleight-of-hand to do it, but Governor Keating is clearly trying to correct the veto mistakes he made last year," said Senator Haney.
While Governor Keating is admitting mistakes, the Senate budget leader wants him to also come clean on his shoddy treatment of higher education and vo-tech in the latest executive budget. Keating has proposed $43 million for higher ed as opposed to $75 million by the Senate. The Governor's vo-tech budget includes just $5.2 million, 2.2 million of which is veto money from last year. The Senate has proposed a $12 million increase for vo-tech.
"It's getting to be a broken record, but Governor Keating still hasn't recognized the economic importance of adequately funding education. Vo-tech and higher ed, two of our best job creators, are always an afterthought in his budgets.
"I don't think he'll ever shake his anti-education reputation with budget proposals like these," concluded Senator Haney.