Governor Tom Vilsack says he doesn’t think it’s fair to ask state workers to accept a pay freeze to help balance the budget. Last week GOP lawmakers who control the state legislature asked the democratic governor to reopen talks with the state employee unions, saying the state can’t afford an 80-million-dollar pay raise next year with tax revenues remaining flat. The governor says those lawmakers don’t realize the state has some 8-percent fewer workers than it did a few years ago, and those workers have waited out wage freezes already so it’s not fair to “pick on any one group.” Vilsack says while he can’t say yet what the state will do, Iowans deserve a certain level of service, and he won’t compromise education, public safety, or health care for seniors or veterans. The governor says the budget problem is “much larger” than state workers’ raises. Vilsack says the state patrol’s at its lowest staffing level since 1966 when the Interstate came through, and he hopes to avoid any more layoffs to ensure safety. Vilsack won’t say whether he supports the idea put forth last week by the head of the state workers union, to roll back the tax cuts of recent years if lawmakers and the governor don’t want to be responsible for a tax increase.
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