The head of an Iowa union and four Democrats in the state legislature are suing Iowa’s Republican governor over a controversial veto he issued last month.
Branstad item-vetoed language in a bill that would have kept 37 Workforce Development offices open to provide services to unemployed Iowans, but Branstad didn’t strike out all the money the legislature allocated to run those offices. Danny Homan, president of the Iowa chapter of the AFSCME union for public employees, says the governor is moving money around on his own, against the wishes of legislators.
“I want the Iowa constitution to be followed and I hope that a judge will make the appropriate decision,” Homan says. “And I hope that decision is that those offices will remain open.”
Branstad item vetoed about $3 million that would have been used to run the 37 offices, but left several million dollars in another section of the bill that was set aside for operation of the satellite Workforce Development offices. The lawsuit cites a similar case involving former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack. Republican legislators accused Vilsack of using his item veto power to shift money around in the state budget against their wishes and won their case. Homan says that shows governors don’t have unlimited authority.
“Follow the intent of the law, governor,” Homan says. “Open up (those) offices, provide the services to the citizens of the state that they deserve.”
A spokesman for Governor Branstad describes the lawsuit as political chest-thumping and a reckless act that will derail plans to modernize the department. Agency managers are establishing up to 500 remote computer access points around the state, in places like libraries and National Guard armories, where unemployed Iowans can go on-line to get help in updating a resume or looking for jobs.
(Mr. Homan misspoke about the dollar amount “item vetoed” from the bill and the story was updated with correct information.)