The declining economy, particularly a dip in consumer spending, is forcing significant cuts in the state of Iowa’s budget. Governor Tom Vilsack has ordered a seven percent budget cut for about half of state government — trimming 108 million dollars to deal with lower-than-expected tax collections. The state universities will be hardest hit. Vilsack says public safety and public defense budgets will not be cut, nor will state aid to schools or aid to the poor. The Veteran’s Home in Marshalltown, the School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs or the Braille and Sight-Saving School in Vinton will be exempt from the cuts, too. Vilsack says in the past when the state faced a similar budget dilemma, taxes were hiked, but says taxes will not be raised this time. Vilsack is asking his agency directors to come up with the plans for implementing the cuts — and he says it will include layoffs, he just can’t yet say how many.Middle managers are to be targeted. There’s now one supervisor for every eight state workers. Vilsack wants that ratio changed so there’s one supervisor for every 11.Republican legislative leaders say the Governor’s making good moves, but more cuts are needed. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says Vilsack’s 108-million dollars in cuts are perhaps only a third of what’s necessary. Iverson says they’re happy that “at least the governor’s now recognizing the problem.”Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from West Des Moines, says by refusing to consider cuts in half of state government, Vilsack is putting a great burden on the state universities in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City.
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