Republican legislators propose unpaid furloughs for state workers and the elimination of a dozen state programs as part of their plan to balance the state budget that goes into effect July 1st. Republicans want to end the state program which bought computers and other high-tech equipment for schools and community colleges. And the G-O-P proposes ending almost 600-thousand dollars in cultural grants. But the big-ticket item in their plan which cuts 216-million dollars is a requirement that all state employees take a half-day of unpaid leave each month. Legislators think that’d save over 33-MILLION dollars. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says state agencies will be asked to manage those furloughs better than they did this spring. Rants says the Department of Agriculture and Department of Human Services shut down their whole departments. Rants says no more than one quarter of the department should be shut down at one time.Rants says Governor Vilsack proposed a four-and-a-half percent, across-the-board cut in the state budget, but republicans decided to make selected cuts.The plan leaves very little wiggle-room, and Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows concedes that’s worrisome. He says the proposal will protect education and the taxpayers of Iowa. Iverson says it hasn’t been fun or easy to do.The republicans’ budget-cutting proposals will be molded into a bill which the legislature will pass next Tuesday when they meet in special session, and democrat Governor Tom Vilsack will have to decide whether to go along with them. Rants urges the Governor to go along. Rants says the governor needs to sign the budget given the late date the legislature is meeting, making it tough to come up with something else before the start of the fiscal year.Republicans also have some ideas at containing the sky-rocketing costs in the Medicaid program by checking whether folks who’ve signed up got a better job and are no longer eligible, as well as making Medicaid recipients pay a dollar per prescription if they insist on name brand rather than generic drugs. The details of the G-O-P plan will be posted on the Internet at radioiowa.com later today.
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