As the stalemate over the state budget drags on, democrat Governor Tom Vilsack has offered a less-expensive wish list for lawmakers, but G-O-P leaders refuse to spend any more money. Vilsack proposes taking 60-million dollars that’s earmarked for highway construction and instead use that money to boost state spending in a variety of areas, primarily education. He says he’s deeply concerned that reductions in the K-12 system will reduce the number of teachers, lead to larger class sizes, and declining test scores.House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says no way. Rants says, “It’s nothing, I mean, this whole special session is a waste of taxpayers’ money. This special session is nothing more than a 38-thousand dollar press conference for the governor…it’s a 38-thousand dollar press event, and that’s all this is.” He says republicans are not going to accept the governor’s proposal to shut down road construction. Rants says shutting it down will put people out of work and take bread off their tables.Rants says the Governor’s proposal is ridiculous. He says the governor’s intent to increase general fund spending with not method to pay it off, “leaves me concluding one thing, that he’s got some secret plan to pay off this one time spending that he wants to do.” Vilsack plans to call lawmakers back to Des Moines Monday for a “special session.” Vilsack outlined his latest proposal for the reporters before heading into an afternoon meeting with republican legislative leaders. Vilsack says the spending shift would delay construction on 20 miles worth of four-lane highway for a year. But Rants, the G-O-P leader in the House, says republicans won’t stand for that, as it’ll throw road construction workers out of a job. He asks which 20 miles of road the governor wants to keep from being built, he says the governor isn’t saying as he says the governor has no plan, “all he wants to do is take the money.” Vilsack would also spend more money on state troopers, prisons, the Vet’s Home in Marshalltown, and the Department of Human Services. Vilsack says it is up to them to try as best they can to reach a consensus. He says they also want to send a message that they think these are important priorities that’re worth fightin’ for. Republicans say they’ll show up Monday, convene into “special session” and then leave.
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