At the end of the month, Governor Tom Vilsack plans to recommend the shut down of a few state programs when he unveils his plan for next year’s state spending. “Let me give you an example of one program that we are suggesting be eliminated,” Vilsack says. “Every year we reward good-performing (high school) students with a four- or five-hundred dollar (state) grant.” Vilsack says if he has to make a choice between giving the top high school graduate in every Iowa school a state grant, or using that money instead to boost teacher salaries, he’s going to choose teacher compensation. Vilsack says the state grant to Iowa’s high school valendictorians costs the state about half a million dollars. In the health care area, he’ll outline which patients who’re getting Medicare coverage today will have to be thrown off the system if the cigarette tax isn’t raised. “You fund education, you fund public safety and you fund health care and then you run out of money,” Vilsack says. “Then you say if the tobbaco tax were increased, this is what we’d do with it.” Vilsack will recommend a cigarette tax hike, but he’s not ready to reveal by what amount. Once legislators have Vilsack’s spending suggestions, they’ll spend the next few months drafting their own spending plan.
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