Iowa’s Attorney General dropped a bombsell on outgoing Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack today.
Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, has issued an opinion declaring one of Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s final acts in office was “invalid.”
In early June, Vilsack rejected part of an education bill that listed who should be on a new commission that was to come up with a method for linking Iowa teacher pay to performance. Vilsack then issued an executive order, asking a commission of his own to study the merit-pay issue, in consultation with an already existing group called the Institute for Tomrorow’s Workforce.
The attorney general called it an “unconstitutional exercise of the item veto power.” And the attorney general said work of the two groups the governor has asked to devise a pay-for-performance plan cannot be financeed by the money legislators set aside for their commission.
The governor’s legal counsel says Vilsack does not intend to change course in any way because the Attorney General’s opinion is merely “advisory” and cannot force the governor to take any action. “This is simply a disagreement between attorneys in the executive branch,” says Governor Vilsack’s legal counsel Gary Dickey, Junior.
Dickey suggests the opinion released today by the Attorney General contradicts what Miller’s staff said in late May. “We sought counsel from the Attorney General’s staff about the appropriateness of all the item vetoes before he took action,” Dickey says. “They expressed no concern when we visited with them earlier.”
Dickey, again, says today’s opinion cannot force the governor to stop using state taxdollars to finance the work of the governor’s own pay-for-performance commission and the bipartisan Institute for Tomorrow’s Workforce. “While we appreicate the Attorney General’s non-binding opinion, we just simply disagree with their conclusion,” Dickey says.
Republican legislators who objected to the governor’s action have not responded to Radio Iowa’s request for interviews. Governor Vilsack himself is campaigning today in the state of Nevada.