Governor Tom Vilsack wants to borrow 120-million dollars from the state’s “economic emergency fund” to avoid making any more cuts in the state budget. State tax receipts are way below expectations, and Vilsack says with just four months left in the state fiscal year, the cuts necessary would be too deep. He says “this is the most difficult fiscal situation and challenge the state has faced as a state government in 50 years. Vilsack, who’s a democrat, says he wants to avoid an across-the-board cut in the state budget because it’ll cause “chaos” in schools.That’s how much money’s in the state’s surplus accounts. Vilsack says the economic emergency fund should be used to ease what he called “the pain” of bad economic times, and he’s calling on the legislature to quickly approve the idea. Vilsack says the legislature can have as its legacy that “they preserved and maintained and increased the surplus, or it can have as its legacy that it to the step to invest in children, to invest in better educational opportunity.” Vilsack says there are a number of reasons for the state budget crisis. He says the national recession has impacted almost all segments of the economy. Vilsack says if legislators do not tap into the economic emergency fund, they’ll have to suggest significant, selective cuts in some state agencies. Vilsack says the time is too limited to make selective cuts. He says his plan is a reasonable approach and consistent with what other states are doing.Vilsack talked by phone this afternoon with legislative leaders, who must approve borrowing the money. Vilsack set March 1st as a deadline for making a decision. Republican legislators have repeatedly resisted dipping into the state’s economic emergency fund. The Governor’s idea of tapping into the state’s economic reserve fund to cover a budget shortfall is getting a chilly reception from republican legislators. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says he’s frustrated and disappointed the governor didn’t make any request for budget cuts..Rants say you’d think out of a state budget of five billion dollars, Vilsack could have found at least one cut to propose. He says republicans will be left to do the hard budget work.Rants says Republicans will consider Vilsack’s idea, but are leaning toward other options, like selected cuts. He says will the governor’s plan looks easy on the surface, he says it has far-reaching implications.Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says Vilsack’s idea should be “last resort” rather than their first option.Vilsack does not have the authority to tap into the economic emergency fund on his own; he needs legislators’ approval to do it.
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