Governor Branstad says he’s confident he’ll prevail over a lawsuit that challenges his decision to close 37 Workforce Development offices, despite a legislative compromise that would have kept those offices for unemployed Iowans open.

Branstad used his item veto authority on a budget bill to remove language that dealt with the issue and to remove more than three-million dollars set aside for the operations of those offices. Last week a handful of Democratic legislators and a union leader in state government sued the governor, hoping to overturn that decision in court.

“I just see this as more politics,” Branstad says.  “…The fact is, we feel very confident on this.”

Branstad says his staff “carefully” reviewed the matter before he acted.

“I think we’re in a very strong position in terms of winning,” Branstad says. “…The constitution clearly says the governor has authority to veto items in appropriations bills.”

But Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo who is part of the lawsuit, says Branstad didn’t veto all the money for operating those 37 offices, just a fraction of it.

“I don’t think he knows exactly what he vetoed,” Dotzler said. “I mean, he did veto $3.5 million, but it takes about $15 (million) to keep all those offices open.” 

Dotzler says Branstad needs to tell Iowans what he plans to do with the rest of the money legislators set aside to run those satellite Workforce Development offices.

“By the governor vetoing the $3.5 million, he did make it much more difficult to keep all the offices open,” Dotzler says. “but he didn’t veto the whole appropriation.” 

Branstad touts the decision to close those state Workforce Development offices and direct out-of-work Iowans to dozens of computer connections in places like libraries, schools and National Guard armories where they can go on-line and do a job search.