Hegar asks for opinion from AG regarding line-item vetoes

State Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced he is seeking an opinion from the Texas Office of the Attorney General on the effect of certain parts of the Governor’s veto proclamation for House Bill No. 1, the General Appropriations Act.

Section 14, Article IV of the Texas Constitution contains the scope of the Governor’s veto authority:

If any bill presented to the governor contains several items of appropriation, he may object to one or more of such items, and approve the other portion of the bill. In such case he shall append to the bill, at the time of signing it, a statement of the items to which he objects, and no item so objected to shall take effect.

After the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott used this authority to strike nearly $300 million in appropriations from the state’s 2016-2017 budget. The Legislative Budget
Board’s staff subsequently raised questions as to whether the vetoes exceeded
the governor’s authority under the Texas Constitution. In response, the Office
of the Governor provided a detailed brief outlining the constitutionality of
the veto proclamation.

Hegar issued the following
statement:

“I am lapsing the funds for
all items objected to by the Governor and will treat the items in question as
vetoed. However, if advised otherwise, those appropriations can be made
available immediately. As the Chief Financial officer of the state of Texas, it
is my responsibility to account for items of appropriation. There are complex
questions related to the Governor’s vetoes, so I am seeking clarity and
requesting guidance from the Attorney General’s Office. This is a
constitutional issue that goes to the heart of separation of powers within
Texas government. I have a fiduciary duty to Texas taxpayers to ensure their
hard-earned dollars are spent in a manner that is consistent with the
constitution of the state of Texas.”