Governor Tom Vilsack says state policymakers can’t cut taxes and raise teacher pay. The democrat governor favors setting aside up to 60-million dollars to boost teacher salaries rather than enacting the kinds of tax breaks Republicans have proposed.Vilsack says the Republicans want to give tax breaks for utility bills and what he calls “high-income” retirees.Vilsack says he’ll put a focus on K-through-12 schools, and the state-supported universities in Ames, Iowa City and Cedar Falls are going to have to adjust. He says they’re not abandoning higher education, but says they’re shifting their emphasis to other parts of the system.On another budget matter, Vilsack hasn’t read the final consultants’ report which calls for 150-million dollars of renovation and improvements to state buildings near capital in Des Moines. For example, the consultants say it’s time for a major upgrade of the state crime lab and medical examiner’s space.Vilsack says the state can make a “valid case” there needs to be improvements in those two areas.Vilsack has asked for another study of whether it’s cheaper for state agencies to lease office space through the capital city rather than renovating old office space and construction new state office buildings.The Governor’s going on the road next month to “test market” his state budgeting ideas. In January, Vilsack will present a budget outline to the Iowa Legislature. In November and December, he’ll visit seven Iowa cities to discuss that outline.Vilsack can’t remember getting any new ideas from last year’s round of public hearings, but he says Iowans are invited to share their thoughts on a wide range of subjects.The first hearing will be held November 12th in West Burlington and will focus on “accountable government”. The second hearing’s in Davenport on November 21st and the subject is the “new economy.” The third hearing’s on November 27th in Cedar Rapids, and the focus will be education. The fourth hearing will address health care issues, and it’ll be held on November 28th in Sioux City. The hearing December 4th in Council Bluffs will focus on “safe communities.” The December 6th hearing in Mason City will focus on environmental issues and the final hearing December 11th will be held in Johnston and any issue is fair game.
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