Key legislators and the Governor are meeting this afternoon to hammer out the details on bills that’ll be voted on in tomorrow’s special legislative session. The five major issues: restoring budget cuts to vital state programs, enacting budget reforms, establishing some secrecy for homeland security operations, reorganizing the state’s welfare agency and outlining an early retirement program for state workers. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says they’ve reached consensus on most issues.Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from West Des Moines, says it’s been tough to get things ironed out.Labor groups are urging lawmakers to use the state’s economic emergency fund rather than make budget cuts. Jolene Franken of Denison is president of the Iowa State Education Association — the teacher’s union. She says Iowa schools can’t do more with less.Franken says the budget cuts will make Iowa’s public education system “second-rate.” Franken says school officials already faced with thin budgets will be hard pressed to make up the shortfall. Jan Corderman, president of the largest union for state workers — AFSCME, says the budget cuts could be avoided by dipping into the economic emergency or “rainy day” fund. Corderman says “it’s not just raining, it’s pouring.”Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says the G-O-P has no intention of using the economic emergency fund. He says there are things happening that are beyond their control, but he says they have the ability to handle the situation without dipping into the fund.Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from West Des Moines, says it’s important to keep the economic emergency fund in reserve.
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