There was a show of force at the statehouse today as mayors, firefighters and police chiefs spoke out against a 70-million dollar cut in state aid to cities and counties. The cut was approved by the House and Senate last week, and the group is calling on Governor Tom Vilsack to use his item veto power to reject it. Fort Madison Mayor Joe Kowzan says city services will be shut down and city workers will lose their jobs.Kowzan says the cuts will be painful, and will harm the “quality of life” in Iowa. Clinton Mayor LaMetta Wynn says lawmakers who voted for the cut will experience a backlash.Wynn says she sometimes believes those lawmakers force they’re going back home to face re-election. Newton Mayor David Aldridge says legislators are trying to balance the state budget on the backs of cities and counties. Aldridge says cities have already cut the fat out fo their budget, and will be forced to cut vital services. Keokuk Fire Chief Mark Wessel, president of the Iowa Professional Fire Chiefs Association, says layoffs will compromise the safety of fire fighters.Newton Police Chief Tom Wardlow, president of the Iowa Police Executive Forum, says the cuts will put police operations in critical condition. Wardlow says cities will be forced to layoff police at the same time the public is demanding more drug arrests and homeland security measures. Clinton Fire Chief Mark Regenweather says he’ll have to layoff up to 10 fire fighters and close one fire station. Regenweather says his department is as lean as it can get, and he predicts a higher loss of life and property in his community if the Governor approves the cuts. Last Friday, Vilsack indicated he would approve the cut because he said the alternative would be to cut the state budget across the board and that would affect schools, which he says he won’t abide. Clinton Police Chief Brian Guy calls the cuts the state’s version of “shock and awe” and questions the Governor’s priorities. Guy says local schools are well taken care of, but public safety is not and that’s where the focus should be.
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