Governor Tom Vilsack’s making a last-minute request that legislators spend 400-thousand dollars on a program that helps students in 13 Iowa high schools learn skills for the business world. The Jobs for America’s Graduates or JAG program doesn’t get any money in the budget plan that cleared the Senate last week. “And for the life of me I do not understand why legislators have a hard time with this,” Vilsack says. “It’s all about keeping kids in school. It’s all about avoiding drop-outs.” But Senator Jeff Angelo, a Republican from Creston who’s chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says Vilsack’s last-minute request came last week after Republicans and Democrats in the Senate had struck a deal. “It’s just not possible within the context of the demands of the budget to try to fund everything that he’s asking for as well as (what) the legislators are asking for,” Angelo says. Businesses agree to give the JAG students work experience, and Angelo believes the businesses might be willing to step up to finance the program. Angelo says legislators have prioritized their spending, and perhaps the private sector can step forward and pay for the JAG program. Vilsack isn’t giving up. He’s enlisted the help of a nationally-prominent Republican to try to persuade Republicans to give the program some state taxdollars. Marc Racicot, the manager of the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004, has called Republican legislators in Iowa and Vilsack says he’s talking with Democrats in the legislature. “We are going to fight in the next five or six days,” Vilsack says of the effort to get that 400-thousand dollars for the JAG program. Jobs for America’s Graduates is operating in the following Iowa high schools: Cedar Rapids Washington, Davenport North, Des Moines East, Hampton/Dumont, Columbus Junction, Council Bluffs Lewis Central, Marshalltown, Perry, Sioux City West, Southeast Webster, Waterloo Expo High School and Waterloo Grad at Hawkeye Metro Center which has students from Waterloo East and Waterloo West.