The Iowa legislature’s top republican says the 2001 session will be “tough” as the G-O-P clashes with democrat Governor Tom Vilsack. House Speaker Brent Siegrist, a republican from Council Bluffs, says the G-O-P’s agenda includes teacher pay, tax cuts, and a review of department of human service programs which aim to protect kids.Siegrist predicted democrat Vilsack will suggest “budgeting gimmicks” that would, for example, call for borrowing money rather than paying cash to construct new buildings. He says they’re not going to “return to the bad habits we had in the early 90s.”Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says state tax returns are dipping, and budget cuts are in order. He says not having as much money isn’t bad, because “what you don’t have, you don’t spend.”Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from West Des Moines, says republicans will stress the need for smaller government. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City opened the G-O-P’s breakfast meeting this morning. Lawmakers gaveled into session at 10 o’clock this morning in Des Moines. Governor Tom Vilsack defends his budget plan, saying it fits Iowans’ priorities. He says it’s a budget that responds to the “significant, identifiable needs of the state.”Republicans intend to propose a one-month moratorium on the state sales taxes charged on utility bills. Vilsack says that won’t help poor Iowans who can’t pay their heat bill.Vilsack suggests, instead, that a utility tax now used to finance energy efficiency measures be used solely to help the poor pay for their heat.Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows and House Speaker Brent Siegrist of Council Bluffs have announced they may run for Governor in 2002. Vilsack says the situation won’t hamper his working relationship with the two. Vilsack says Iowans and Americans just got over a very difficult election and the last thing they want is for another election season to start. Vilsack will formally present his budget outline to lawmakers tomorrow when he delivers his “condition of the state” message at the statehouse.
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