Governor Tom Vilsack is rejecting the republican-crafted school spending plan for the next two academic years. Vilsack says he knows one thing for certain: the bill legislators passed last night would be a step backward. He promises to veto the bill when it reaches his desk. The bill that passed the House and Senate last night outlined state spending for the 2004/2005 academic year and made a promise for general state spending on schools for the following year.Vilsack says he’s heard from teachers, school administrators, school boards and parents. Vilsack says they’ve sent a “unified and consistent message, that the legislative action last night was inadequate and inappropriate.” Vilsack says it’s time for legislators to be “more open” to the idea of raising taxes to ensure Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools get enough money. Vilsack says schools are struggling to keep teachers on the payroll and having trouble finding the money for supplies and technology. Vilsack says that’s why he’s committed to ensuring the state provides “adequate” support to schools. Vilsack says he’s willing to sit down and work with legislators “until we get it right.” Vilsack says when he handed in assignments that were incomplete, his teacher would hand them back and tell him “you can do better. Try again.” Vilsack says the G-O-P spending plan for the school year that starts in the fall was 12 million dollars short of his proposal, and would have forced schools to layoff teachers and staff. Vilsack’s spending plan for the next academic year is about twice what republican legislators approved last night in general state aid to schools. Republican legislators say Vilsack’s threatened veto is not about state education funding. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says it’s all about Vilsack’s “demand” to raise taxes. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says Republicans “delivered” as much money as is necessary to meet schools’ needs. Iverson says it’s very sad the governor has taken a serious issue and “turned it into a political football.” Iverson says the governor has one purpose. Iverson says Vilsack’s veto is using school children as pawns and is “whipping people up for an election.” Republicans say they’ll promise school administrators to provide just the amount of money the bill they passed provided, incorporating that spending in bills they’ll debate later this spring.
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