Republican Governor Terry Branstad says Iowa’s budget is better off than most every other state — and he rejects the suggestion the state spending plan for the next 12 months uses some of the “gimmicks” he criticized former Democratic Governor Chet Culver for employing.

“Those are the bad budgeting practices that we came here to correct and, for the most part, I think we got that done,” Branstad says. “There’s a few areas where we still may need to do more, but I’m very pleased in the progress we’ve made in one year.”

Branstad is critical of an analysis from the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency that concludes the state budget plan approved by legislators last month shifts $272 million dollars from “one-time” funding sources and uses the money for on-going state expenses. Branstad snapped at a reporter who asked about the topic this morning.

“You don’t have your facts right so, you know, you don’t have your facts right,” Branstad replied, in the testiest public exchange with reporters during his fifth term. “The truth of the matter is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have it both ways. The fact is we made the tough decisions on the budget.”

State agencies began laying off workers last week and Branstad is unsure how many state employees will lose their jobs.

“Well, we don’t know exactly because the decision is made department-by-department,” Branstad said this morning. “But I want to commend our department heads. I think they’ve done a phenomenal job. They inherited a terrible mess.” 

According to Branstad, state agencies were saddled with a contract with unionized state workers that was approved during Democratic Governor Chet Culver’s final days in office. 

“Initially we thought there’d be many more layoffs than there is actually going to be just because of the financial mess we inherited and the over-spending and the use of one-time money and all of those kind of things we had to straighten out,” Branstad said. “But I think our department heads have done a good job and I think they have been innovative and looked at how do we deliver the services, hopefully improve the way the services are delivered, and do it with fewer people.”

Branstad will take a few weeks to thoroughly review the budget bills legislators sent him on the final day of June.  By law, the governor has 30 days to review those bills. Branstad has already approved one budget plan, for the Department of Transporation, as he says it was nearly identical to his spending outline for the agency.

AUDIO of Governor Branstad’s news conference.