Republican lawmakers announced Monday the focus of their cost-cutting plan will be a one-year pay freeze for state workers. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says at least the workers still have jobs.He says many Iowans have lost their jobs, and that’s one reason state tax revenues are down. Also on Monday, Governor Tom Vilsack said he’d rather cancel 20 miles of roadwork and use the money on other priorities. But Rants says you won’t find a community ready to give up its project. Rants says it’s fine to suggest tapping the road fund, but hard to find people who want to see a local project halted. GOP leaders say if state worker unions aren’t willing to re-open negotiations, their members have to prepare to face more furloughs and layoffs.Republicans are also touting an idea for getting rid of some “sacred cows” in state government. Republicans want to create a special commission that would come up with a list of state programs that should be shut down. They want outgoing State Auditor Richard Johnson to lead it. The commission’s recommendations would either be entirely accepted or rejected in whole by the legislature and the governor. That’s the way the federal commission that recommended closing several U-S military bases operated. Congress had to either accept or reject that commission’s recommendations. The idea gives politicians making controversial decisions a ready scapegoat, as they can blame a program’s demise on the commission, making politically tough votes easier.
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