In a radio address Friday, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said he has sought assistance from U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater to complete major drainage projects, fund upgrades to the wastewater treatment plants and purchase vehicles for the disabled and elderly.
He also said he has received assurances that some additional federal money will be made available for general use by the Public Works Department to complete other projects now under way.
The governor's remarks also included comments on recent protests by law enforcement officers over wages, the fiscal year 2001 budget, and the crisis in education.
Turnbull said he and his financial advisers are putting the finishing touches on the budget package, which should be sent to the Senate "soon." The executive budget was due on May 30.
"We have attempted to structure a spending package that will continue vital services and programs but I have instructed department and agency heads to plan on reducing payroll costs by an additional 5 percent," the governor said.
He also said much emphasis is being placed on education where a mass exodus of teachers is anticipated when schools reopen next month.
"We must do what we have to in order to ensure that there are sufficient teachers in the classrooms when school reopens in August," Turnbull said, adding that education remains his No. 1 priority. "We are continuing talks with the teachers unions in an attempt to reach consensus on a raise for teachers."
In addressing the protests by law enforcement officials' unions, Turnbull said, "We are not deaf or insensitive to their needs but it is clear that we do not have all the necessary funds to address all of the problems of these agencies at the same time."
The governor recapped his recent veto of legislation that would have provided some funds to rehire laid off Vitran workers through the end of the fiscal year. He said the money appropriated by the Senate for that purpose was insufficient. He warned senators to avoid election year pressure to override his veto. Noting that the Vitran system is $12 million overspent, the governor said, "We cannot continue to operate public transportation in this manner. To attempt an override is unwise and irresponsible."
He also reviewed his recent participation in the National Governor's Association conference in State College, Pa.
A release from Government House dubbed the radio talk a "Weekly radio address by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull."