Governor Chet Culver says he’ll make a decision soon about whether or not to call a special session of the legislature. The Democrat has been reviewing a report from the Rebuild Iowa Commission, outlining the immediate unmet needs in Iowa after tornadoes and flooding in May and June.
"We’ll make a decision – probably within the next 10 days or so – when we have all the vital information we need from the federal government," Culver told reporters Thursday at the Statehouse. At issue, Culver says, is the extent to which FEMA will reimburse the state for debris removal and other costs. The Governor says he believes FEMA will pick up anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of the tab.
"That difference (between 75 and 90 percent) is more than 100 million dollars," Culver said. "That will have a big impact on our decision." Culver says there won’t be a need for a special session if the state’s portion of the clean up bill isn’t too expensive.
"If they don’t do 90/10, for example, then I think there’s all the reason in the world to have a special session because we have to quickly come up with significant money to help the local communities recover," Culver said. Members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation have said addressing Midwest flood relief will be one of the top priorities when lawmakers return to Washington from the August recess.
Culver says that potential appropriation, coupled with what has already been allocated, will help a lot of Iowans."We have already used roughly 20 million dollars in state resources to help local communities," Culver said. "We have an additional 60 million or so we could use just through the Executive Council authority. On top of that, we have another 85 million dollars coming from the Department of Housing and Urban Development."
Several state lawmakers, county supervisors and city council members – both Republican and Democrats – gathered at the fire station in Palo Thursday and called on Culver to call a special session. House Republican leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City said he believes Culver should have called a special session a month ago.