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Update on Furloughs

August 10, 2009

As a part of its efforts to research the legal justification for the governor’s withholding of approximately $100 million in salary funds from the state’s school systems, an action which resulted in most systems calling for educators to endure furlough days, PAGE communicated with Nels Peterson, Deputy Executive Counsel to Governor Perdue. PAGE questioned the legality of the action and asked which specific section of the Georgia Code authorized it. Our question went to the point of whether or not the governor could unilaterally change funding in the state budget’s salary line for educators - what had been an approved legislative appropriation – without legislative approval. Mr. Peterson’s e-mail response to PAGE Attorney and Legislative Manager Margaret Cicciarelli is below:

Ms. Cicciarelli,

The question of Governor Perdue's legal authority with respect to budget reductions turns on a proper definition of precisely what action the Governor has taken.  The Governor has not reduced appropriations; instead, the Governor has withheld budget allotments per his authority under the Budget Act contained in Title 45.  No formal change will be made in the amounts appropriated until the General Assembly votes on the Amended Budget for FY 2010 during the upcoming legislation session.

I trust this addresses your concerns.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with additional questions.

Yours very truly,

Nels

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Nels Peterson
Deputy Executive Counsel
Office of Governor Sonny Perdue

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