With the Legislature on the verge of adjourning for the session, Governor Tom Vilsack met with reporters late Tuesday to give his assessment of their work. Vilsack says the state has seen momentum recently in creating jobs and revitalizing its economy. He says in some areas the legislature enable us to continue the momentum, in other areas it did not. He says he appreciated that the legislature increased the school aid to four percent, but was disappointed they didn’t address teacher salaries. Vilsack says the legislature missed an opportunity to continue transforming Iowa’s economy by permanently funding the Iowa Values Fund.He says, “We had momentum, why stop?” He says the legislature didn’t do all we wanted it to do, so it’s now a challenge to the executive branch to see what they can do to continue the momentum, and he says “and hopefully we’ll have a more cooperative effort in subsequent general assemblies.” Vilsack may use his veto pen on the budget bill, but says he doesn’t know where yet. He says they’re going to take a very appropriate time to study the budget bill as it’s very large and they want to study everything before they make and final decisions on the budget. He says he’s not a big fan of omnibus budget bills, he says it’s a tactic used by the federal government when they can’t get their work done on time. Vilsack says his staff tells him there are a lot of special programs in the budget and he wants to study them. He was asked why he thought the legislature didn’t get done what he hoped for. He says he thinks the legislature was preoccupied with gaming, and that was all they felt they could do in an election year. Vilsack compares this session to a ballgame that’s been called by darkness.He says there are still opportunities, and the legislature has “move the runner into scoring position” with the four percent school funding. He says they won’t score until the approve the two-percent teacher pay increase. Vilsack says there are certain to be layoffs in state government when the new budget year begins July 1st. He can’t say how many people that might include. He says he doesn’t have an idea about it, but says it will be “substantial.”
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