Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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May 14, 1997


I am transmitting to the Secretary of State, with my signature, 97-H-5248, Substitute A, As Amended, "An Act Relating to Revised Appropriations." The Act contains revisions to the Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (96-H-8783), which was enacted over my veto last year.

The Revised Appropriations Act was introduced at my request on January 14, 1997, in accordance with a new requirement enacted by the General Assembly last year, codified in Rhode Island General Laws §35-3-8.

I am pleased that the Act does provide some additional flexibility in responding to unanticipated expenditures not delineated in the enacted Budget.

I also concur essentially with the revised appropriations amounts contained in the Act. Generally, these amounts are accurately based on the projected expenditures of the various state departments and agencies. While the Act does not address certain payroll and other costs anticipated in the current fiscal year, I support the General Assembly's position that these items be addressed within the context of the Fiscal Year 1998 Appropriations Act.

I continue to disagree, however, with Section 3 of the Revised Appropriations Act, which provides that all excess general revenues received in FY 1997 shall be transferred to the Rhode Island Depositors Economic Protection Corporation (DEPCO) special revenue fund. Given the results of the May Revenue Estimating Conference, this provision would result in the transfer of over $37 million of additional revenue to DEPCO, above and beyond the amount required in FY 1997 for DEPCO to pay its current debt obligations. Given that the obligations of DEPCO are being extinguished much faster than originally anticipated ($165 million in DEPCO debt has been repaid ahead of schedule during my Administration), given that the full value of DEPCO assets and litigation recoveries have yet to be determined, and given other important state priorities, I do not support the use of all excess sales tax revenues to accelerate the payment of DEPCO obligations. The magnitude of the DEPCO transfer under Section 3 of the Act would effectively preclude any additional investments which should be made for education, roads, welfare reform, tax relief, and other priority areas given the State's increased revenues.

I understand that the transfer of funds to DEPCO will be revisited as part of the FY 1998 Appropriations Act, and I am committed to work with the General Assembly toward a resolution of this issue.

Despite our differences on the originally enacted FY 1997 Appropriations Act, I am encouraged by this Revised Appropriations Act. Given increased state revenues, I am confident that we can work cooperatively to enact a FY 1998 Budget that delivers quality services, appropriate investments, and tax relief.


Lincoln Almond