142nd District Chairman Appropriations Committee
The Governor's power to veto individual appropriations does not include the power to reduce an appropriation.
This replies to your request for my opinion whether the Governor’s use of the veto power to reduce two appropriations for the current fiscal year is legally effective. The Georgia Constitution empowers the Governor to veto appropriations as follows:
The Governor may approve any appropriation and veto any other appropriation in the same bill, and any appropriation vetoed shall not become law unless such veto is overridden in the manner herein provided.
Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. V, Para. XIII(e) (the “Appropriations Veto”).
Citing this power the Governor reduced the following appropriations to the Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”). The vetoes are shown as they appear in the printed act:
Local Development Fund I veto any amount above $617,500. Roy E. Barnes, May 3, 1999 $650,000 . . . . Regional Economic Development Grants $1,187,500 I veto any amount above $1,128,125. Roy E. Barnes, May 3, 1999
1999 Ga. Laws 1071, 1079.
In his Veto Message the Governor explains that DCA itself originally proposed the same reductions and adds, “That reduction was sustained through the House, Senate and Conference Committee versions of the appropriations bill.” However, the enacted bill restored the reductions. 1999 Ga. Laws CCCLXVII, CCCLXIX. When this happened, the Governor decided to reduce rather than eliminate each appropriation, “[b]ecause the programs are beneficial to the state.” 1999 Ga. Laws CCCLXVII, CCCLXIX. He also acknowledged, “The question arises as to whether the Governor can veto a partial amount,” id., an “issue . . . never . . . directly decided by the courts in Georgia.” Id. at CCCLXX.
1. The “General Rule”
During the recent, unsuccessful attempts to bring the line item veto to the federal government2, scholars intensely studied the appellate court decisions of other states about line item vetoes3. They found “the item veto . . . a fertile source of state constitutional litigation4” and the topic difficult and intricate, its rules resistant to generalization from one state to another, in part because of subtle differences in constitutional language and in part because of the uniqueness of each state’s circumstances5. Nevertheless, one of the issues litigated and studied with relatively clear results has been the power to reduce appropriations. The constitutions of ten states expressly include a power to reduce individual appropriations; in the absence of express power, only a small minority of state courts has found an implied power to reduce appropriations6.
2. Meaning of the Text
In Georgia as in other states, one turns first to the text. The main rules for interpreting the text of statutes and constitutions derive from common sense and our democratic nature7. Words should be given their ordinary meanings in the context8. They should be interpreted in light of the policy problems they address9. Unless plain meaning leads to an absurd result clearly at odds with underlying purpose, plain meaning prevails10.
To repeat the words at issue, the Appropriations Veto provides, “The Governor may approve any appropriation and veto any other appropriation in the same bill.” The central words in the first clause are “approve” and “appropriation.” The central words in the second clause are “veto” and “appropriation.” Thus, one should look to the common understanding of these three words, “approve,” “veto,” and “appropriation.”
“To veto” is a word in general use, but it is most often used in the legislative context, as it is here. It means “to prevent (a legislative bill) from becoming law;” “to forbid or prevent authoritatively; prohibit.” The American Heritage Dictionary 1346 (2d Coll. ed. 1991) (parentheses in original). “To approve” has an opposite meaning. It ordinarily means “[t]o confirm or consent to officially.” Id. at 122. Both words connote a power over actions of another, and the choice is to consent or to refuse consent.
Given these meanings legal scriveners would not ordinarily use “veto” or “approve” to express a power to promulgate or amend11. In ordinary parlance, if the choices were intended to include such powers, one would expect the list to include additional words to express the additional meanings12. As should be expected, in most states in which the governor may reduce appropriations, the power is expressly stated through the use of the additional words in the veto language13. The power is not derived from an unusual meaning of “approve” or “veto.”14 Thus, neither “approve” nor “veto” would ordinarily imply a power to reduce.
The power to consent or to refuse consent operates on “any appropriation” and “any other appropriation.” From the Constitution we know that an “appropriation” is an authorization to draw money from the treasury or to expend federal funds. Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. I, Para. II(b). With certain exceptions “the appropriation for each department . . . for which appropriation is made shall be for a specific sum of money.” Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. VI(a). Since a “specific sum” standing alone would be meaningless, the Constitution must contemplate more. Intuitively, there must be a recipient and a purpose to go with the amount, and that essentially is how the word “appropriation” is understood. It is an authorization “by the General Assembly” to a budget unit to expend a specific amount of money from public funds for a stated purpose. O.C.G.A. § 45-12-71(2). See 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. U73-94, p. 375; The American Heritage Dictionary 122 (2d Coll. ed. 1991).15
It is this unit of “recipient,” “purpose” and “amount” upon which the words “approve” and “veto” operate. There is no express power in the Georgia Constitution to operate on the parts individually. The object of the veto power is stated with precision as any “appropriation.” In the small group of states which imply some form of a power to reduce appropriations, the veto power operates more loosely on any “item” or “part,” as the constitutions of other states sometimes put it.16 But even in those states with words like “item” or “part” in their constitution, a majority of the states treat the words “part” and “item” as meaning an indivisible unit, not subject to reduction or change by veto.17
On the basis of similar reasoning, my predecessor described the power as permitting only the arrest of an appropriation and concluded that “when the Governor exercises the power, he can exercise it only as to the whole ‘appropriation.’” 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. U73-94, p. 377. Indeed, no previous opinion is support for a reducing veto in Georgia. As just noted, the principle opinion on the Appropriations Veto limits the power to accepting or rejecting a whole appropriation, and it concludes even then that the power possibly cannot be exercised so as to defeat an appropriation necessary to the operation of government. Id. at p. 373-74. In a subsequent opinion the General Assembly had changed its method of amending the general appropriations act. Instead of making a series of specific changes, the General Assembly commenced the current practice of superseding the original act with a whole new bill. When the Governor vetoed an individual appropriation, which was larger than its original counterpart, the opinion applied principles of statutory construction to conclude that the original counterpart revived with the veto, as opposed to leaving the activity without an appropriation. The opinion specifically states, “This conclusion does not mean that I have receded from my prior opinion that a veto may be exercised only against an appropriation as a whole. Nor does it mean that I have concluded that the Governor may exercise the power to reduce the amount of an appropriation.” 1974 Op. Att'y Gen. U74-36, p. 387. Cf. 1945-47 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 628 (Governor could not alter the meaning of a subordinate appropriation, which parceled the main; his message is therefore read to veto the subordinate appropriation without defeating the main). Note, too, that the loose paraphrasing of the Constitution in the 1945 Opinion, in using the word, “parts,” is criticized at 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. U73-94, p. 377.
3. The Governor’s Interpretation of the Text
I understand that the Governor’s differing interpretation of the text rests principally on the presence of two opening clauses in the Appropriations Veto. To repeat, “The Governor may approve any appropriation and veto any other appropriation in the same bill.” Since the Constitution could bestow the negative power of veto by simply stating, “The Governor may veto any appropriation in an appropriations bill,” the Governor reasons that there must be further meaning in the opening clause, “The Governor may approve any appropriation.” Under that language, the Governor contends, he “may approve any appropriation,” not just “an appropriation,” and concludes that the use of the word “any” connotes discretion. Further, under the Governor’s analysis, the only constitutionally essential element of an appropriation is that it have a “specific sum,” a sum which he believes does not have to be set by the General Assembly. Therefore, he concludes, finding a lesser power included in the larger, the executive may “approve” a “specific sum” less than the amount proposed by the General Assembly.
It should be noted that the Governor’s argument is well principled and is based upon conventional authority. However, on reflection, if the Governor may “approve” any lesser sum under the first clause, he may approve a sum of zero, and the second clause would then become redundant. In truth, neither clause is redundant or in need of added meaning. Each only expresses one end of a pair of choices. Analogous expressions of related choices occur elsewhere in our Constitution.
[B]efore any bill . . . shall become law, the Governor shall have the right to review such bill . . . . The Governor may veto, approve, or take no action on any such bill.
Ga. Const., Art. V, Sect. II, Para. IV (emphasis added).
All bills . . . intended to have the effect of law shall become law if the Governor approves or fails to veto the same.
Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. V, Para. XIII(a) (emphasis added).
Arguably, the Governor’s interpretation is tantamount to saying that the Governor may set the amount of the appropriation. This would either expand the common meaning of “approve,” described above, or it would treat the “specific sum” enacted by the General Assembly as if it were a series of choices of lesser sums, any of which the Governor may “approve.” In either case the interpretation is inconsistent with a straightforward reading. It is also inconsistent with the process set out in the Appropriations Section of the Constitution. Under that process, the Governor submits “a draft of a general appropriations bill,” but it is the General Assembly which “annually appropriate[s] those state and federal funds necessary to operate all the various departments and agencies.” Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. II(a), (b) (emphasis added). Each of these very appropriations “for each department [or] agency” must “be for a specific sum of money.” Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. VI(a).18
To summarize, the language of the Appropriations Veto has a straightforward meaning in ordinary terms. To read the text as implying a power to reduce appropriations strains the ordinary meaning of the words employed. One does not ordinarily give the Constitution a strained interpretation. Thompson v. Talmadge, 201 Ga. 867, 905 (1947); Thomas v. MacNeill, 200 Ga. 418, 425 (1946). As already noted divergence from plain meaning is accepted only when the result is absurd or is patently inconsistent with intent. Cf. Telecom USA, Inc.v. Collins, 260 Ga. 362, 364 (1990). The following section takes up that issue, considering whether a reducing veto must arise by implication to avoid an absurd result or a patent inconsistency.
4. Historical Purpose and Checks and Balances
“[T]he singular historical purpose underlying the Georgia appropriations veto provision was to place in the executive a check on the practice of ‘logrolling.’” 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. U73-94, p. 370. Logrolling, as explained by one proponent of the initial provision, was the “‘habitual practice of loading bills . . . necessary for governmental operations with reprehensible . . . dispositions of the public money,’” particularly “‘at the close of the session.’” Limited to accepting or rejecting the whole bill, the Governor’s “‘only alternative for keeping the government in motion’” was to accept the “‘venal dispositions.’” Id. at p. 369 (citation omitted). The veto of individual appropriations was seen as a check on this practice.
But individual appropriations might still associate several purposes with a single lump sum, forcing the Governor on a smaller scale to the same dilemma of accepting or rejecting the group as a whole. In other states disputes have arisen about various ways in which legislative form may thwart the use of the Appropriations Veto, and, as noted, the scholarly research finds various approaches to the issues.19 Nevertheless, in the design of the Georgia Constitution, one may readily find evidence that the form of the appropriation as to purposes should be left to the General Assembly, as part of a cautious and intricate compromise.
Georgia pioneered the requirement that a bill seeking to enact general law may contain only one subject matter, Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. V, Para. III.20 Consistent with the history just described, the intent is to prevent omnibus bills, i.e., bills which attach unrelated and sometimes unpopular topics with necessary legislation, forcing the acceptance or rejection of the whole. See generally Central Of Georgia Ry. Co. v. State, 104 Ga. 831, 845-47 (1898). However, the general appropriations act necessarily funds all the various purposes of state government, so it cannot be labeled and confined to “one purpose” in quite the same way. In partial response, it is confined to the “purpose” of appropriations. “The general appropriations bill shall embrace nothing except appropriations. . . .” Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. III. Thus, the Constitution prevents the General Assembly from “logrolling” general law within the funding necessary to operate state government.21
But note that the Constitution does not expressly preclude the General Assembly from lumping several purposes for appropriation into an individual appropriation. Instead, the Constitution applies the “one subject” concept in the appropriations area only with respect to supplementary appropriations, providing that all appropriations “other” than those in the general appropriations act must “embrac[e] but one subject.” Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. III. As to the general appropriations act, the Constitution provides only that the “form” shall be as “prescribed by statute.” Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. II(a).22 In ignoring its own “one subject matter” model to control general appropriations, and leaving the “form” of the general appropriations to legislative control, the Constitution provides strong evidence that on this point it does not limit the General Assembly by implication.23
However, there is a trade-off with respect to “lumping,” a part of the system of checks and balances. In combining specified purposes in a group, or in stating purposes in general terms rather than by specific listing, the General Assembly loses some control of its own, for two reasons. First, an appropriation is only an “authorization” to spend, not a command.24 Second, the General Assembly cannot allocate a specific amount to each of various purposes expressed within a “grouped” appropriation without creating separate appropriations.25 Therefore, the total sum of a grouped appropriation is available for all or any part of the purposes, in the statutory discretion of the budget unit.26 If the General Assembly wishes to control the precise amount available for specific projects, it must expose a threatened project to the hostile fire of an Appropriations Veto. If it presents multiple purposes together with one sum, it runs the risks that the whole is vetoed or that the budget unit will apply the funding only to certain purposes stated in the group.27 Nor can the General Assembly defeat the compromise by attaching conditions to the funding within a grouped purpose, a source of disputes in other states,28 because in Georgia the General Assembly can only appropriate, and cannot enact general law, within an appropriation, a principle given very strict interpretation in previous opinions.29
Without more, a constitutional power to reduce individual appropriations would not directly offset a power to include several purposes in one appropriation. After a reduction of a group appropriation, the budget unit in principle would still be able to expend the remaining funding for any of the purposes included or favored by the General Assembly, applying the reduction to other programs within the grouped purposes. More importantly, here, too, a compromise is at work. While the Governor may not reduce individual appropriations, the Governor may still veto each separate appropriation; he also controls the overall amount appropriated. The General Assembly may not appropriate more than the Governor’s estimate of surplus and revenue. Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. IV(b); cf. 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. 79-18.
I note as a practical matter that the Governor of Georgia, in exercising his fiscal responsibility to the State, also has certain statutory authority in regard to state expenditures. The General Assembly has adopted the “Budget Act” to guide the administration of appropriations, exercising its power to provide “by general law . . . for the fiscal administration of the state.” Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. II(c). Under the Budget Act agencies must submit periodic work programs and requests for allotment of funds to the Office of Planning and Budget as part of the process of drawing down appropriations. O.C.G.A. § 45-12-82, -83. The Governor reviews work programs for “conformity to the budget approved by the General Assembly.” O.C.G.A. § 45-12-84(a), -85(a). The Governor reviews requests for allotment “for conformity to the approved periodic work program.” O.C.G.A. § 45-12-84(b). He further reviews allotment requests against the statutory “goals” of “economy, efficiency, decentralization of state government, and sound fiscal management.” O.C.G.A. § 45-12-85(b). However, the Governor may cause changes to the allotment requests to meet the stated goals only through “changes . . . which are consistent with and subject to the method and provisions contained in the General Appropriations Act.” O.C.G.A. § 45-12-85(b).30
To summarize, then, the General Assembly has given the Governor certain responsibility over the allotment process, but the Constitution does not expressly grant the Governor the power to reduce an appropriation.31 It leaves the form of the appropriation to the General Assembly, but it also confines the General Assembly to a narrow definition of appropriation, preventing it from introducing extraneous elements into the appropriations act. The purpose and amount of the individual appropriation are with the General Assembly; the issue of each individual appropriation is with the Governor, and the ceiling for the total amount of appropriations is with the Governor. Thus, the Appropriations Veto is part of an intricate compromise of checks and balances, with no express power on the part of the Governor to reduce appropriations. To conclude that there is power to reduce by implication would strain the plain language of the Constitution and overlook the checks and balances noted above.32 The arrangement may present the Governor and the General Assembly at times with difficult, “either/or” choices, but such “Hobson’s choices” seem inherent in the legislative processes of our system.33
5. Effect of the Governor’s Action
The general rule is that an impermissible veto has no effect on an appropriation, particularly unless the governor’s affirmative approval was necessary to bring the provision into law.34 In Georgia the Appropriations Veto itself states, “The Governor may approve any appropriation and veto any other appropriation in the same bill, and any appropriation vetoed shall not become law unless such veto is overridden in the manner herein provided.” Stating the converse of the last clause, any appropriation “not vetoed” shall become law. The veto message makes clear that the Governor supports an appropriation for the subject programs and approves all but a portion of the appropriations. Given the overall context, the veto message should be viewed as not intending to veto the whole of the appropriations in the event the reduction is ineffective.35
Therefore, responding to your immediate question with due deference to the Governor’s position, it is my unofficial opinion that the Governor's power to veto individual appropriations does not include the power to reduce an appropriation. The appropriations to the Department of Community Affairs are in force as enacted, without reduction.
JOHN B. BALLARD, JR.
Senior Assistant Attorney General
It may be helpful to a practical understanding of the situation to note that apparently the restoration of the cuts occurred inadvertently during the final bill drafting process. However, there is no basis for reforming or correcting the enacted bill because a scrivener’s error is not apparent. Compare Humthlett v. Reeves, 211 Ga. 210, 218-19 (1954) (court may acknowledge scrivener’s error "plain and clear" on face of bill) with Sirota v. Kay Homes, Inc., 208 Ga. 113, 114-15 (1951) (court cannot act when language does not reveal the error).
The reduced appropriations are for programs administered by DCA under its statutory authority to make competitive grants to local government entities. O.C.G.A. § 50-8-8; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 110-6-1-.01 et seq. ("Local Development Fund Grants"), 110-7-2-.01 et seq. ("Regional Assistance Program"). DCA proposed the reductions as part of its compliance with the Governor’s "redirection" instructions for budget requests. 1999 Ga. Laws CCCLXVII, CCCLXIX. The Office of Planning and Budget instructed agencies "to present their F.Y. 2000 budget requests based on a reallocation of at least 5 percent of [their] F.Y. 1999 adjusted base budget." Agencies were allowed to propose uses of these funds within their own new budgets but they competed for redirected funds with "priority areas within state government as a whole." State of Georgia Budget Report Fiscal Year 2000 20-21.
2 Unable to agree upon an amendment to the federal Constitution, Congress enacted the "Line Item Veto Act," which the Supreme Court then found unconstitutional. Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998).
3 See, e.g., Richard Briffault, "The Item Veto in State Courts," 66 Temp. L. Rev. 1171 (1993); Louis Fisher and Neal Devins, "How Successfully Can the States’ Line Item Veto be Transferred to the President?" 75 Geo. L.J. 159 (1986); House Comm. on Rules, 99th Cong., 2d Sess., "Item Veto: State Experience and Its Application to the Federal Situation," (Comm. Print 1986) (hereinafter, "House Rules Print").
4 E.g., Briffault, supra note 3, at 1172-73.
5 House Rules Print, supra note 3, at 5, 141; Fisher and Devins, supra note 3, at 166 et seq.
6 House Rules Print, supra note 3, at 4, 14, 29, 47, 157 et seq.; The Book of the States 98-100 (1998-99 ed.). Nearly all states permit some form of the veto of individual appropriations. Id.
7 See Wellborn v. Estes, 70 Ga. 390, 396 (1883). "The construction must square with common sense and sound reasoning." Blalock v. State, 166 Ga. 465, 470 (1928).
8 "In the main, the general principles governing the construction of statutes apply also to the construction of the constitution." Jones v. Darby, 174 Ga. 71, 72 (1931) "When interpreting words used in the Constitution the presumption is that they were used according to their ‘natural and ordinary meaning.’" Williamson v. Schmid, 237 Ga. 630, 632 (1976). "[W]here a constitutional provision or statute is plain and susceptible of but one natural and reasonable construction, the court has no authority to place a different construction upon it, but must construe it according to its terms." Brandywine Townhouses, Inc. v. Joint City-County Bd. of Tax Assessors, 231 Ga. 585, 588 (1974). See also Smith v. McMichael, 203 Ga. 74, 77 (1947); Kerese v. State, 10 Ga. 95, 96-97 (1851) ("One of the first rules to guide a Court in applying a Statute, is never to undertake construction, where the law is perfectly plain.") (italics in original).
9 Cady v. Jardine, 185 Ga. 9, 10 (1937) ("recalling the history of the event that gave it birth, and the evil it sought to prevent, and recognizing the wisdom of the provision, it must nevertheless be given a reasonable interpretation").
10 "We begin our analysis with the ‘golden rule’ of statutory construction, which requires us to follow the literal language of the statute ‘unless it produces contradiction, absurdity or such an inconvenience as to insure that the legislature meant something else.’. . . When literal reading of the statute produces such an absurdity, the appellate court must then seek to make sense out of the statute, while being faithful to the legislative intent. . . . To define the legislative intent, the court considers the purpose of the statute and its impact on the body of law as a whole. . . . The court also considers the law as it existed before the statute was passed and identifies the mischief sought to be corrected." Telecom USA, Inc.v. Collins, 260 Ga. 362, 363-64 (1990). Compare Sizemore v. State, 262 Ga. 214, 216 (1992) (literal result absurd), with State v. Foote, 225 Ga. App. 222 (1997) (literal result not absurd, followed).
11 For example, Rule 23(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that a class action may not be compromised without "approval" of the district court. "The court's power to approve or reject settlements does not permit it to modify the terms of a negotiated settlement." Jeff D. v. Andrus, 899 F.2d 753, 758 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Evans v. Jeff D., 475 U.S. 717, 727 (1986)). See also Schwager v. Commissioner, 64 T.C. 781, 791 (1975) (dealing with "the distinction between the power to make changes and the power to bar change by the expedient of denying permission").
12 In contrast to the example in the preceding footnote, in postal rate making, "[u]pon receiving a recommended decision from the Postal Rate Commission, the Governors [of the United States Postal Service] may approve, allow under protest, reject, or modify that decision." 39 U.S.C. § 3625 (emphasis added). See Dow Jones & Co. v. United States Postal Serv., 110 F.3d 80, 82 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
13 See, e.g., Railroad Comm’n v. Riley, 82 P.2d 394 (Cal. 1938); Reardon v. Riley, 76 P.2d 101 (Cal. 1938) (California Constitution empowered Governor to "reduce or eliminate any one or more items of appropriation of money") (emphasis added).
14 See infra. note 16.
15 Enacting the definition is also consistent with the powers of the General Assembly. The General Assembly is empowered to provide "by general law . . . for the regulation and management of the finance and fiscal administration of the state." Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. II(c). More specifically, the Governor must annually submit a general appropriations bill in "draft" form and "in such form and manner as may be prescribed by statute." Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. II(a) (emphasis added).
16 See Risser v. Klauser, 558 N.W.2d 108, 111 (Wis. 1997) ("in whole or in part"); Karcher v. Kean, 479 A.2d 403 (N.J. 1984) ("in whole or in part"); Commonwealth v. Barnett, 48 A. 976, 977 (Pa. 1901) ("power to disapprove of any item or items . . . and the part or parts of the bill approved shall be the law"). See Richard Briffault, 66 Temp. L. Rev. 1171, 1176 n.16 (1993).
17 See, e.g., Stong v. People, 220 P. 999 (Colo. 1923) (Governor may not reduce appropriation). In this decision, which is very close in point to the present situation, the Colorado Constitution provided, "The Governor shall have power to disapprove of any item or items." Id. at 1000. The Governor, referring to a salary appropriation, said, "of [the amount] I approve $5250.00 and disapprove $1750.00." Id. The court held the Governor had no power "to veto a portion of a separate, distinct and indivisible item such as the one here under consideration." Id. at 1003. Accord Fergus v. Russel, 110 N.E. 130 (Ill. 1915). "An item in an appropriation bill is an indivisible sum of money dedicated to a stated purpose." Commonwealth v. Dodson, 11 S.E.2d 120, 127 (Va. 1940). "Under this definition, an item is the smallest distinct unit of an appropriation act." Gilmore v. Landsidle, 478 S.E.2d 307, 314 (Va. 1996).
18To reduce an appropriation is an act of a different character from its arrest, such that one cannot simply say that reduction is merely a lesser power of the whole. See Sanders v. Town Comm’rs, 30 Ga. 679, 681 (1860) ("The power to regulate the prices of licenses is one thing, and the power to grant licenses is another thing"); 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island, 517 U.S. 484, 510 (1995) (In the interpretation of constitutions, it is not always true that all "greater" powers include all "lesser" powers.).
19 Notes 4 & 5, supra. See, esp., House Rules Print, supra note 3, at 148 et seq., 152 et seq.
20 Cady v. Jardine, 185 Ga. 9, 10 (1937).
21 "The general appropriations bill shall embrace nothing except appropriations fixed by previous laws; the ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the government; payment of the public debt and interest thereon; and for support of the public institutions and educational interests of the state." Ga. Const., Art. III, Sect. IX, Para. III (emphasis added). See 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. 75-71; 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. 75-4.
22 That "statute," the "Budget Act," defines "appropriation" in part as an authorization "for the purposes specified in the authorization." O.C.G.A. § 45-12-71(2) (emphasis added).
23 It is further evidence of original intent that the constitutional convention which first adopted the Appropriations Veto rejected a system which placed much greater initiative and ultimate control with the Governor in the appropriations process. 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. U73-94, p. 369-70.
24 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 73-80.
25 Cf. 1989 Op. Att'y Gen. 89-3, p. 7.
26Cf. 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 73-162 (dual purposes consistent with general law and within agency discretion).
27See Daniel S. Strouse, "Essay: The Structure of Appropriations Legislation and the Governor’s Item Veto Power: The Arizona Experience," 36 Ariz. L. Rev. 113, 151 (1994) ("Competing political pressures probably check any legislative tendency to vitiate the item veto power through lump-sum appropriations. If the legislature writes a budget of relatively general appropriations, the executive branch then has greater discretion over how to allocate the appropriated funds. . . .").
28 House Rules Print, supra note 3, at 148, 152.
29"This office has repeatedly opined that an appropriations act ‘may appropriate to a state agency a maximum amount of public funds for purposes envisioned by the authority and responsibility of that agency which have been granted by general law.’ 1984 Op. Att'y Gen. 84-19, p. 44, citing 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 73-147. Furthermore, ‘the Constitution of the State of Georgia prohibits an Appropriations Act from doing anything more [or] anything less than authorizing a state agency to spend up to a maximum amount for a purpose or function which the agency is permitted or required by general law’ to perform. 1977 Op. Att'y Gen. 77-88, p. 159-160. In addition, this office has consistently concluded that ‘appropriations Acts cannot constitutionally alter a discretionary authority for the expenditure of that money which the General Assembly has granted an agency by general law.’ 1984 Op. Att'y Gen. 84-19, p. 44, citing 1977 Op. Att'y Gen. 77-87; 1975 Op. Att'y Gen. 75-4; 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 73-174; 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 73-162." 1991 Op. Att'y Gen. 91-26, p. 60. See also 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 73-147; 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 73-132; 1992 Op. Att'y Gen. U92-19.
30In this regard consider the criterion just quoted, consistency with the "method and provisions contained in the General Appropriations Act," in light of the limitation of the Act to appropriations, discussed above at note 29. See also 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. U98-16 (legislative power may not infringe on the "constitutional power of the Board [of Regents] to govern the University System, particularly its power to receive and allocate as a lump sum ‘[a]ll appropriations’’’); 1980 Op. Att'y Gen. 80-30 (legislative "reduction in the estimated mandatory appropriation attributable to motor fuel tax collections" impermissible); 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. U73-94, p. 373-74 (necessity of appropriations to operate government, discussed above at p. 3). Compare State ex rel. Schwartz v. Johnson, 907 P.2d 1001 (N.M. 1995) (governor’s power to reduce allotments absent deficit improperly delegated), with University of Conn. Chapter AAUP v. Governor, 512 A.2d 152 (Conn. 1986) (held, governor’s statutory power "to reduce budgetary allotments" in response "to a change in circumstances since the budget was adopted" or when "estimated budget resources . . . will be insufficient" not a reducing veto in violation of constitution; held, further, standards for exercise satisfied delegation tests).
31On the difference between a review of an allotment request and a veto, see University of Conn. Chapter AAUP v. Governor, supra note 30, 512 A.2d at 155-56.
32 Public officers have only such powers as the Constitution and the General Assembly confer upon them, in express terms or by necessary implication. Holder v. Anderson, 160 Ga. 433, 441 (1925) (addressing the Governor’s power to remove a public officer).
33See Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 440 n.30 and text (1998). The Governor faces a similar choice if the General Assembly exceeds his estimate of revenues and surplus. See 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. 79-18. See also INS v. CHADHA, 462 U.S. 919, 967 ("Without the legislative veto, Congress is faced with a Hobson's choice") (dissenting opinion).
34 House Rules Print, supra note 3, at 162. E.g., State ex rel. Turner v. Iowa State Highway Comm’n, 186 N.W.2d 141, 150-51 (Iowa 1971) (dictum); Caldwell v. Meskill, 320 A.2d 788, 796 (Conn. 1973) ("This decision is in accord with the overwhelming weight of authority holding that a veto exercised in excess of constitutional authority is an ineffective nullity.").
35Cf. 1945-47 Op. Att'y Gen., p. 628 (finding opposite intent under different circumstances).