Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed a total of $56.5 million of expenses Monday from the state budget, on top of an $11 million veto Friday.The Legislature passed the budget on May 9 on a 36-12 vote, but shortly afterwards, the state’s tax commissioners said state revenues in April were about $55 million less than expected.
“The state’s revenue picture continues to worsen, and we must take responsible steps to tighten our belts,” Ricketts said. “The budget I received from the Legislature increases the gas tax and relies on budget gimmicks. To prevent a tax increase and protect the budget, I have vetoed a total of $56.5 million.”
The governor’s vetoes reduce various state agency appropriations by a half a percent (0.5%), although some programs and agencies were excluded, including those already reduced by 3 percent or more, Ricketts said.
Also, the budget, after line-item vetoes, protects the property tax credit relief fund, as well as reforms for the department of corrections (prisons), public safety, and state aid to K-12 schools, Ricketts said.
“These are thoughtful and measured reductions, and I urge the Legislature to sustain these vetoes,” he said.
On Friday, Ricketts vetoed $11 million in spending for the Capitol heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems replacement project. That is not enough to postpone the project, he said. There is still money in the budget to buy land for a geothermal well field, and to construct the well field, he said in his veto letter.
He said the HVAC Project is an important priority.