Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement Monday on purported vetoes issued by Governor Terry McAuliffe:
“Today, a point of order was raised on the floor of the House of Delegates regarding the propriety of two purported vetoes issued by Governor Terry McAuliffe. As Speaker of the House, it is my responsibility to make rulings on such questions when they arise.
“The Governor’s vetoes of Item 301, Section TTT, Paragraph 9 and Item 468 L are unconstitutional and therefore not properly before the House. This is a decision consistent with rulings made by past Speakers and opinions issued by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
“In multiple instances, the Supreme Court of Virginia has defined an item as “an indivisible sum of money dedicated to a stated purpose” and added that the Governor cannot veto conditions or restrictions without also vetoing the appropriation. The Court has also stated unequivocally that the Governor may not veto part of an item.
“In the instance of Item 301, Section TTT, Paragraph 9, the section is not connected to an indivisible sum of money and therefore does not constitute an item, as the Court has defined, subject to the Governor’s veto authority. Also, the section by its nature is a condition placed on all “general or nongeneral funds” included in the budget. In other words, the Governor has purported to veto a section that does not constitute an item subject to his veto authority and attempted to veto conditions or restrictions without also vetoing the appropriation.
“In the instance of Item 468 L, the Governor has purported to veto all funding for new judgeships as well as corresponding conditions and restrictions. However, Item 468 L is a supplemental appropriation attached to Items 39, 40 and 41 of House Bill 5002. In other words, the Governor has failed to veto the entire item in question.
“These are not decisions I make lightly. As I have said before, I am committed to upholding the procedures, rules, traditions and integrity of the office of Speaker and the Virginia House of Delegates. I cannot idly allow unconstitutional actions to be considered by this body. To do otherwise would be an unacceptable acquiescence of legislative branch authority.”