Governor Tom Vilsack has pared his budget plan for the next state fiscal year by 144-million dollars, and he’s asking legislators to dip into the state’s “economic emergency fund” for another 120-million to make the books balance. Vilsack was forced to make the recommendations when state tax revenues fell precipitously due to the faltering economy. Vilsack suggests that when state employees retire, they not be replaced. That would amount to between 400 and 600 vacant positions — about two percent of state government’s workforce. Vilsack says some state services will end. For example, the D-O-T may no longer have employees driving the highways, offering assistance to stranded motorists. But Vilsack proposed no cuts in child welfare programs. Vilsack does not propose cuts in state support of public schools, nor does he reduce the plan to provide 40-million more state tax dollars to raise teacher pay. He says to keep promises to increase education spending, the state should dip into its quarter of a billion dollar “economic emergency” savings account to make up the difference. Republican legislators say they haven’t reviewed the details of Governor Tom Vilsack’s revised state budget plan, so they can’t comment on its merit. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City spoke to statehouse reporters an hour after Vilsack revealed his plan. Rants says Republicans don’t want to “pre-judge” the Governor’s plan. Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from West Des Moines, says Republicans agree with the Governor that there’s a “significant budget problem.” Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says Republicans won’t offer their opinions on the Governor’s proposals until Monday. Republican leaders won’t even comment on whether it was a good idea to dip into the state’s economic emergency fund to make the books balance.
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