Governor Tom Vilsack says the budget plan drafted by Republicans in the House would lead to state worker layoffs and doesn’t provide enough money for his top two education priorities. Vilsack, who is a Democrat, is seeking million more for preschool programs and teacher salary increases. “I think that there is a recognition on the part of all lawmakers that these issues have to be addressed in some way,” Vilsack says. “Obviously this is a negotiation and in negotiations you start from two opposite ends and over time you work your way to the middle or, in my view, closer to my position.”
The House G-O-P spending plan provides no new money for pre-K programs and only two-and-a-half million dollars for teacher salary hikes. Vilsack also charges the House Republican plan would lead to state worker layoffs. Vilsack says the result would be fewer state troopers on the road, fewer prison guards and fewer state child protection workers.
However, Vilsack says there’s plenty of time to bridge the divide. “I haven’t given up on any of this and I shouldn’t,” Vilsack says. “Punxsutawney Phil just saw his shadow a couple of days ago. We’ve got plenty of time in this session.”
Vilsack is also critical of the budget outline Republican President George Bush unveiled Monday. Vilsack says it doesn’t provide any new money for the federal program that helps low income people pay their heat and utility bills, and if nothing’s done, Vilsack says Iowa’s Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance Program runs out of money at the end of the month.