Iowa’s governor was among a group of governors from across the nation that met with President Bush in Washington, D.C. this morning as part of the National Governors Association meeting. Governor Tom Vilsack says the association then put together a policy statement containing three main issues they want to see addressed by the President and Congress. The first involves more money for homeland security.He says they’re hopeful Congress will appropriate more than the three-billion dollars the president has proposed. And they hope Congress will give the states flexibility in using the funds. The two areas involve education. He says they are asking federal officials to provide additional funding for the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” and says they want the feds to eventually fund it at the full level promised. Vilsack says he asked that more funding for the “No Child Left Behind Act” be included in their agenda. He says they’re also asking for flexibility in using the money, so states like Iowa can use the systems they’ve already put time and money into at the state level. Vilsack says the increase in funding the governors are asking for could add up to 15-20 billion more than what the president has budgeted. He says the governor’s didn’t put a specific cost on the request to allow flexibility in negotiating with federal officials and to show a recognition that federal officials are also facing a deficit. Vilsack says they also want to show they’re responsible and not asking for a blank check, but want to have federal mandates adequately funded. Vilsack was also able to visit with several cabinet members during the stop at the White House. That included a talk with the Secretary of the Interior.He says he encouraged the secretary to learn more about the Loess Hills area and the need for a special federal declaration for the area, and he talked with the Energy Secretary about Iowa’s renewable fuels initiative. Vilsack says Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson gave a presentation on his plan for improving Medicare. Vilsack says the secretary believes the plan will be more flexible and give states incentives to take more creative approaches to Medicaid.
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