Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack has signed most of the republican-crafted state budget plan into law. Vilsack used his item veto authority to make some deletions, but for the most part the G-O-P’s four-and-a-half billion dollar budget remained intact. Vilsack says he doesn’t yet know how many state workers will lose their jobs. Vilsack says state agency directors are in negotiations with union workers. Vilsack says the state will “manage” and do the best it can under the budget outline. Vilsack did complain that republican lawmakers did not answer his call to find permanent financing for the state’s new economic development program — the Iowa Values Fund. Vilsack says “in many respects, this budget does not take full advantage of the opportunities we had this year.” Republicans rejected Vilsack’s call to raise the cigarette tax and to charge sales taxes on more services. Vilsack says he won’t let the tax issue die, though. Vilsack says the tax structure in Iowa needs to be modernized, and he’s “not walking away from that debate.” House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City. Rants says “if the governor wants to take his message of raising taxes into the fall campaign, that’s fine” with him. Vilsack says while some would pay more sales taxes in the first years of his plan, there would be an overall reduction down the road. Vilsack says Iowa’s income tax system also needs to be simplified and the property tax system needs to be replaced. Rants, the republican lawmaker, says taxes not only need to be reformed and simplified, they should be cut, too.Rants says Iowans have said “loud and clear” that they want their taxes lowered. Vilsack says Iowans overwhelmingly supported the cigarette tax increase he proposed as well as the expansion of the sales tax.
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