Republican legislators continue to harangue democrat Governor Tom Vilsack for being out of state rather than here negotiating with them to end the uncertainty about the state’s new economic development fund. Vilsack went on a week-long vacation earlier this month; he’s in Seattle today at the National Governor’s Association meeting in Seattle; and he’ll be gone next week at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says Vilsack’s travel schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for resolving the dilemma policymakers face. Rants says dollars from the “Iowa Values Fund” have already been doled out in the state budgeting year that ended June 30th. Rants believes there are just about 45 days remaining to fix things, or the State Auditor will have to declare serious problems with the state’s bookkeeping because businesses have gotten grants from a program that, legally, no longer exists because of June’s Supreme Court ruling. Rants says businesses will be “very nervous” if Vilsack acts on his own, and won’t spend the state grant until there’s more certainty to the deal, like legislative action to back the grants. Senate President Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, says it’s time for the democrat Governor to compromise because Vilsack will be sued again if he tries to use executive power to legalize the “Values Fund” grants. Lamberti says Governor Vilsack has twice before exceeded his authority, lawmakers sued him twice, and they’ve won both times. Lamberti says “the people of Iowa expect the governor to abide by the law.” Lamberti says it probably wouldn’t be lawmakers but a business or lobby group that sues if Vilsack acts on his own to make the Values Fund grants legal. Rants and Lamberti made their comments on Iowa Public Television. Vilsack has said before that he is willing to meet with lawmakers whenever possible, but he has responsibilities as a leader in the National Governors Association and in his party. Vilsack is leader of the Democratic Party’s platform committee and will be speaking at the party’s national convention next week.
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