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Archive for Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Graves vetoes bill slated to fix budget

Accelerated collection of oil and gas taxes problematic instead of helpful, governor says

May 22, 2001

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— Calling it burdensome to taxpayers, Gov. Bill Graves vetoed a bill Monday that would have accelerated the collection of oil and gas severance taxes.

The bill was one of several revenue components legislators passed to close a $206 million gap between spending the state planned and money available.

Had it become law, the bill would have created a one-time $6 million bulge in state revenues for fiscal year 2002, which begins July 1.

The bill modified the tax filing deadline, requiring oil and natural gas producers to pay their severance taxes within one month, instead of the current two months.

"The modified filing deadline has a number of unintended and unduly burdensome consequences to the Department of Revenue and the taxpayers," Graves said in a statement. "At the time the tax return and payment are due, most taxpayers will lack the information necessary to file an accurate return."

Graves had promised at the session's end he would also use his "line-item" veto power to trim the budget legislators passed, because the plan left the state's 2003 budget too strapped for cash.

Legislators return May 31 for their ceremonial sine die session, at which time they could attempt to override the veto. Legislative leaders did not return calls late Monday afternoon seeking comment on the veto.

The veto came as Graves signed two other bills into law, raising revenue to support the state's $9.14 billion budget.

On July 1, the state will triple what it collects on all traffic fines. For example, the state's portion of a speeding ticket for driving 10 miles more than the limit would increase from $10 to $30.

The state fine for failing to stop or obey a railroad crossing increases to $180 from $60, and that for improper passing of a school bus goes from $100 to $300.

The law is expected to raise $16 million to $18 million for the state during fiscal year 2002.

Another new law, which takes effect Thursday, allows the Department of Transportation to issue $277 million in bonds for road projects, saving $20 million in state tax dollars in fiscal 2002.

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