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Veto Session Recapped

By Ralph Byers, director of govermental relations

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 28 - April 13, 1995

The General Assembly met on April 5 and 6 to consider the governor's budget amendments to, and vetoes of, legislation adopted in the session that adjourned February 25. In the past, the so-called "veto session" has dealt primarily with technical adjustments to legislation. However, Governor George Allen used this session to propose a major policy initiative, that of transferring lottery proceeds from the state's General Fund to local governments. When fully implemented, this move would reduce the General Fund by approximately $300 million.

In a contentious debate that split largely on party lines, Democrats rejected Allen's lottery proposal, but accepted certain budget reductions he had proposed. Allen did not recommend any funding changes in higher education; therefore, the university's budget will remain as adopted in February.

In a welcome move, the General Assembly adopted language designed to clarify the effect of the Workforce Transition Act (WTA) on institutions of higher education. There has been concern among institutions that the executive branch might withhold positions and funds associated with the WTA, despite language in the WTA that appears to exempt higher eduction.

Language inserted in the Appropriations Act now reads "All money and position savings from the voluntary separation of classified employees or faculty resulting from an approved restructuring plan shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain with the institution." The language also states that savings resulting from a privatization plan "shall remain with the agency or institution to the extent necessary to offset the documented costs of such privatization plan."

The General Assembly also removed language proposed by Allen that the governor, rather than institutions' boards of visitors, have final approval on university presidents' salaries. Allen vetoed a number of bills that were not related to higher education. Because of the narrow split between Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly (22-18 in the Senate and 52-47 in the House), none of Allen's vetoes of legislation were overturned.