Governor Tom Vilsack today stepped into the role of teacher, giving out a midterm report card that’s critical of the effort of the republican-controlled legislature. Standing before a chalkboard at the governor’s mansion, Vilsack wrote an “I” for incomplete on the board for the legislature’s education funding bill. Vilsack says he vetoed the bill as he indicated he would, as he says it did not provide adequate resources for schools. Vilsack also issued an incomplete in Economic Development, saying the legislature has failed to permanently fund the Iowa Values Fund. Vilsack gives the legislature an “F” grade for Health. He says not only do we not have budget targets indicating how much resource legislators want to dedicate to health care for vulnerable Iowans, for seniors living on a fixed income and veterans — he says he’s also seen indications the legislature is not willing to raise the cigarette tax. He says 70-percent of Iowans favor increasing the cigarette tax to adequately provide resources to vulnerable Iowans. Vilsack gives another “F” to lawmakers in Family and Consumer Sciences for not fully funding property tax credits. The last grade was also an “F” for “Reading and Listening”, as he says lawmakers haven’t listened to calls from the public for action on these issues. He says the e-mails, calls, faxes and phone calls he’s received on the issues can’t be different from those the legislature is receiving.Vilsack says this is only a midterm grade and things can change.He says all of them can become straight A’s at the end of this session. He says it starts with reading and listening to Iowans. Vilsack was asked if the legislature might need a special session, or “Summer Term” to get the job done. Vilsack says “We’ll work with them with remedial work during the year to avoid summer school.” He says it may require them to stick around and work on a Friday, but he says it shouldn’t require a special session to get the job done. Vilsack says democrat and republican legislators need to get together and work out the differences to get their grades changed.
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