The Legislature convenes in “special session” today to deal with a 400-million dollar state budget deficit. The Legislature will fix the 200-million dollar hole in the present year’s state budget by borrowing from a variety of special accounts, like the state’s cash reserve. Then, Republican lawmakers intend to cut 200-milllion dollars from the next budgeting plan that covers the fiscal year which starts July 1st. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says the governor is indicating he’ll pass the bill, which he says is good news. Rants says the cuts won’t bring government to its knees.Rants says “average” Iowans won’t even notice the cuts.But House Democrat Leader Dick Myers of Iowa City says the cuts are being felt. He says the 50 teachers who just got a pink slip in Davenport, the people who can’t get cases process in the court system, are feeling the cuts. Myers says education is also going to feel the cuts, as he says the state’s already been “dumbing down” college education with cuts.Democrats say there are other ways to balance the budget without shutting down a dozen state programs, laying off workers and making other selected cuts. Myers says democrats will push a plan that’d borrow from the state account which finances the clean up of areas around underground storage tanks which have leaked gas or oil into the soil. He says it’s a reasonable compromise. But republicans hold a majority of the seats in the legislature and aren’t interested in the democrats’ alternative. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows expects criticism of the G-O-P plan.Iverson says it’s “easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize,” but he says republicans intend to make the program cuts to ensure that government can function. Rants and Myers made their comments on Iowa Public Television.
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