Governor McDonnell signs $85B state budget
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed the $85 billion state budget on Monday scheduled to take effect in less than three weeks, but eliminated two provisions of the two-year spending plan. Key provisions of the 2012-2014 budget, particularly a major increase in contributions to a critically underfunded public employee pension system, are unchanged. McDonnell vetoed one amendment to the budget that would have prohibited him from using future surpluses for transportation maintenance, saying it conflicts with two bills enacted during this year’s session, giving him authority to do so.
The governor, in an unusual move, marked another amendment as “unconstitutional,” meaning the executive branch won’t enforce it. The “unconstitutional” amendment requires a commission made up of legislators to approve disbursements from a new fund set up as a hedge against declining federal support as Congress copes with a $16 trillion debt. The Virginia governor said by making him answerable to a panel of 10 legislators in distributing money from the new Federal Action Contingency Trust, or FACT fund, the legislative branch tried to appropriate power the state Constitution vests solely in the governor. In an explanation of his actions to the House of Delegates, McDonnell wrote, “… I believe that any attempt to delegate legislative approval or veto power over distributions from the FACT fund to be a subset of the General Assembly (the commission) is unconstitutional.”