Mayors, city officials and over a hundred police officers and fire fighters crowded outside the Iowa House today to lobby against a 70-million dollar reduction in state payments to cities and counties. Cedar Rapids Mayor Paul Pate was among those objecting to the “government reinvention” bill which cleared the Senate at three o’clock this morning and is being debated in the House this afternoon. Pate says when the lawmakers “start passing legislation under cover of darkness” they’re not fully thinking things through. Pate says the proposal will cause dramatic cuts in public safety. Pate says he’ll have to cut about 25 officers from the Cedar Rapids police force, and he says that doesn’t make sense in the wake of 9/11 and other security concerns. Pate says the cuts will be felt more dramatically in small towns that might be forced to do without a cop altogether. Waterloo Police Chief Thomas Jennings says Waterloo will lose one-and-a-half million. Jennings says the city budget’s already tight and reduced state support will force him to lay off police officers. Jennings says there is no fat in the City budget.He says he’s losing five officers to a National Guard call up and he says five are retiring, so he says he’s working to try to keep enough officers to provide the proper protection.Governor Tom Vilsack hired the consultants who came up with the idea of reducing state payments to local governments, and he says the alternative is an across-the-board state budget cut which would harm K-through-12 education.
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