Republican legislators met for several hours this weekend to consider their options for dealing with the state budget crisis, including the idea of freezing or even reducing state workers’ pay. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says there are no easy answers. He says they had frank discussions and he says they’ll be looking at eliminating programs and making reductions.The current year’s budget, with just seven weeks remaining, must be cut by at least 203-million, and next year’s budget plan must be trimmed by another 212-million. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says lawmakers must narrow their focus to a single priority.Rants says the only real increases in the existing budget plan were for education and salary boosts for state workers. He says the state can now only afford one of those.State workers have already been ordered to take unpaid furloughs as a result of the previous round of budget cuts, and Rants says republican legislators believe more unpaid-days-off could be scheduled without causing chaos in state government.Rants says the bottom line is there will be “real cuts and real changes” in state government. Legislative leaders will meet privately with Governor Tom Vilsack today to discuss ideas for resolving the red ink problem. Rants says “everything” needs to be on the table in the discussion.
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