A leading Iowa republican is crying foul after democratic governor Tom Vilsack criticized the Bush administration yesterday (Tuesday). He says the governor shouldn’t bash the White House for possible cuts to homeland security when he didn’t take care of public safety in his own budget. House speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says lawmakers this spring intended to replace aging squad cars for the state patrol. In the appropriations bill this year, Rants says lawmakers diverted money from the state’s fleet, a pool of cars for the use of people like social workers, to replace troopers’ patrol cars that have over 100-thousand miles on them, but he says the governor vetoed that. Rants says we’ve got too much money tied up in “cars sitting around in parking lots not doing anybody good,” when troopers on the road need safe reliable vehicles, and he charges that in the governor’s office, other interests of government “won out” over public safety. The governor’s staff responds that some of that money came from the federal government, so moving it around could have triggered an audit. They say Vilsack recommended an extra 800-thousand dollars for vehicle depreciation in HIS budget, but the legislature ignored it. While the legislature and the governor trade blame, state troopers say they are busy salvaging parts to keep their old cars on the road. The president of the state troopers association, Gerri McCurdy, says more than half of the state patrol cars have more than 130-thousand miles on them.He says they’ll just have to keep piecing cars together until their budget’s restored to permit buying new vehicles. For a personal car that might be okay, McCurdy says, but with the need for occasional high-speed response and the occasionally demanding kind of driving troopers do, it’d help to have newer cars. Mccurdy says higher miles also means higher maintenance costs.
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