The Governor moments ago ordered the Director of Administration to release $20 million in tax refunds. This includes all $15 million in Section 30 cash in addition to $5 million from regular collections. This money will cover 9,106 taxpayers. The Department of Revenue and Taxation currently is calculating up to what date of file this covers.
This order comes after Democrat lawmakers adjourned the session, where they were supposed to vote on a bill appropriating additional and unanticipated Section 30 revenues for tax refunds, and three other bills to spend this money on public schools and public safety. The Republican senators, who introduced the bills, are dismayed at the adjournment and immediately advised the Governor that he should spend all $15 million in Section 30 revenues on tax refunds.
Yesterday Vice Speaker BJ Cruz said the Governor has the authority to use the Section 30 revenues on tax refunds without legislative appropriation. The Democrats went into session today and agreed they do not need to appropriate this money; the Governor can spend it immediately on tax refunds. We gladly oblige.
The administration and the Republican minority, however, are disappointed that the other members of the Legislature did not consider the appropriations needed for public schools and for the police, fire, and corrections departments. These are priority areas that needed funding. Since the Democrat senators did not support these measures, the administration will be working with the minority on how best to assist these agencies throughout the fiscal year.
On a final note, we did look into the issue of the release of tax refunds last year using additional Section 30 revenues without appropriation. We were heavily criticized by the budget chairman last year for using the money for refunds without appropriation. The year prior, as the Governor sought more Section 30 cash through restructuring of an existing MOU, the budget chairman introduced Bill No. 308 to use additional Section 30 funds for spending on matters other than tax refunds. The legislative intent of that law states, “The Administration’s practice of preaching transparency, while concealing information, is clearly becoming its emerging policy.” The bill makes appropriations and then adds a provision that the appropriations were contingent upon USDOI approval. If the Governor had not acted last year to use the additional Section 30 funds for tax refunds, it was likely to be appropriated elsewhere. In the interest of transparency and the spirit of cooperation, we believed it was proper to work with senators to appropriate the unanticipated Section 30 revenues this year. However, it seems the majority members of the Legislature have reversed their opinion on this matter. We have no complaints about their new position, which now validates the actions we took in September of last year.

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