Gov. Butch Otter has issued his first veto of this year’s legislative session – on the very last bill. He invoked his line-item veto power to nix an $1,800 appropriation for next year for a 1.5 percent raise for the governor. “While I appreciate the Legislature’s intentions in approving a pay increase for the governor, it is not my desire to accept this increase in the context of having not recommended a similar change in compensation for our valued state employees,” Otter wrote in his veto message.
Otter recommended zero raises for state employees next year; the Legislature instead approved merit raises to average 2 percent, with half of that permanent, and half as a one-time bonus. Separately, lawmakers passed legislation to grant raises to all top state elected officials, mostly 1.5 percent per year, for the next four years; the state Constitution prohibits giving those officials raises during their terms, so that issue can only be considered once every four years, prior to the election.
Otter’s veto message assumes his re-election – that he’ll be the one receiving the governor’s salary next year. The line-item veto was applied to SB 1430, the appropriation bill that followed SB 1395a, the raises bill. He allowed SB 1395a to become law without his signature. In his line-item veto message, he said he intends to donate $1,800 of the governor’s compensation in fiscal year 2015 to Bishop Kelly High School, and wrote, “I also encourage my fellow constitutional officers – who likewise did not seek pay increases – to make similar donations … to the educational institutions of their choice.”
Last year, Otter vetoed two bills; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.