The Republican leader in the Iowa Senate wants to go to court to stop out-going Governor Tom Vilsack from spending any more money on a study of merit-based teacher pay. Earlier this month, Iowa’s Attorney General issued an opinion on Vilsack’s item veto which axed the commission legislators had set up to study the issue. Vilsack set up a teacher pay commission of his own instead, and the attorney general called that act “unconstitutional.”
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says the first step is to get a judge to issue an injunction, prohibiting Vilsack from spending money on his teacher pay commission, which is working with another group on the project. “We don’t want the money spent if there’s a question on the veto,” Lundby says. “We feel with the attorney general’s opinion there’s definitely a question on the veto.”
Lundby says there’s some urgency to this case, and she’s been visiting with other legislators about it. According to Lundby, the money’s supposed to “go out tomorrow” and she’s unsure whether they can act quickly enough to stop the governor from spending it. Lundby says the governor “thumbed his nose at the Legislature” by rejecting their teacher pay commission, and it’s time for legislators to sue to send a message to Vilsack and future governors, too.
“The governors, in general, want to usurp our power and as a legislature, we want to maintain the power of the legislature,” Lundby says. “We’re sorry that it has to be resolved in the courts because you can’t give away your constitutional authority to make laws.” Lundby says the governor has made it clear he does not intend to abide by the attorney general’s opinion, and that’s why lawmakers need to go to court. Other top statehouse lawmakers are not immediately available for comment.