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Perdue withdraws veto of budget
Property tax rebate still removed
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After a three-week standoff with Republican leaders in the Georgia House, Gov. Sonny Perdue withdrew his veto of the midyear budget on Tuesday, opting instead to give a line-item veto for a one-time tax rebate for Georgia property owners.
The governor said he removed his veto after House leaders proved unwilling to compromise on how to handle the state’s surplus funds and drop their promise to override his decision in a special session.
With the line-item veto now in place, the $142 million tax refund that would have gone to Georgia property owners is now earmarked for the state’s reserve.
Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, said putting money away for a rainy day is the best move for the state.
“With a slowing economy it is fiscally responsible to change directions and allow whatever excess revenues come into the state’s coffers in the next few months to be used to build up our reserves,” Johnson said in a released statement. “We will now put the surplus into savings and see if we can afford to permanently reduce taxes next year.”
Perdue and House Republicans had been locked in a battle over the surplus funds since he vetoed the $700 million budget the night before the regular session ended April 20.
The governor claimed the spending plan did not meet the needs of Georgians and believed the tax refund was a political “quick fix” that was “the wrong solution for Georgia.”
The House voted to override the veto, but the Georgia Senate declined to take a vote on the issue and sided with the governor. The upper chamber argued that the veto documents had not been formally transmitted to the Legislature, thus giving lawmakers nothing to actually override.
Legislators had been expecting to receive the call for a special session to rework the budget, but the governor’s decision means they may get to rest a little easier until  January.
“I’m certainly glad we are not going back into special session. It was good news to me,” Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, said. “It’s time to get back home. I’m looking forward to getting back and taking care of some things for my local constituents.”
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