Gov. Roy Barnes' choice of bills to veto were right on target.
Georgia's chief executive struck down a pernicious sports ticket scalping measure, obtusely championed by state Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling. He also vetoed seven other measures as well as axed five line-items in the General Assembly's $14.4 billion budget, including an allocation proposed by Lt. Gov. (and the Senate's presiding officer) Mark Taylor.
Two budget deletions were particularly significant and appropriate:
Barnes killed $1.75 million that would have established an interactive educational exhibit at the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon. This money was to have come from the lottery, deplorably breaking the state's long-time promise to voters not to spend lottery revenues -- now funding HOPE scholarships and pre-kindergarten -- on any programs except a few specific educational ones.
He stripped $1.5 million from the state's anticipated share of the national tobacco settlement. This appropriation was sought by Taylor to send to local governments as a block grant. The governor said the money should go strictly to rural economic development, and he's right. Those block grants would just be huge pork-busting giveaways with little accountability on how the money was spent. Rural economic development is an urgent need, and its progress can be more easily evaluated.
Barnes was also right to veto a plan to let members of the General Assembly who previously rejected participating in the Georgia Legislative Retirement System a chance to reconsider. There's something about this that smells funny. Lawmakers knew what the score was when they passed it up the first time. They made their decision. They should live with it.
The legislature also created something called the Joint Study Committee on Art Policies for the Capitol and the Governor's Mansion. Give us a break. The state and its localities are rife with art groups and most of them do a fine job. We don't need another one, especially if its acronym is to be JSCAPCGM. Barnes' veto of this art bureaucracy won't hurt Georgia's thriving arts community one whit.
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