Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says the 36 Iowa Workforce Development offices closed in a budget cutting move will not be reopened while the state appeals a judge’s decision that the veto of funding for the offices was unconstitutional. Branstad has asked for an expedited appeal process. (Story on judge’s ruling)
“I would also say that we don’t want to go backwards…during this interim period we’re gonna continue providing services on Saturdays and weekends that weren’t available previously. So we really want to provide the very best employment services opportunities for Iowans during the interim while this is on appeal,” Branstad said this morning during his weekly news conference.
The governor admitted the process will not be resolved this fiscal year as it takes some time for the legal process to work out. Five legislative Democrats and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) filed the lawsuit and cited a successful appeal of a 2004 case against then-Governor Tom Vilsack.
Branstad said this case is important to maintaining the budget authority of the governor’s office. “It’s really a question of precedent and the power of the governor to control spending through the item-veto process, so that’s why it is very important,” Branstad said. “You know there’s been a number of item-veto cases over the years. This is an important case because it’s going to determine for the future and for future governors their ability to control spending and to be able provide the best and most efficient services to the people of Iowa.”
Branstad was asked if he could be more aggressive with the use of his item veto authority if he prevails in this case. “No, no, each case is decided on the merits of it,” Branstad replied. “Every item veto is based on whether or not this is something that is an appropriate expenditure of tax money or if there’s a better more efficient way to do it, and that’s the way we’ve always decided item vetoes, and that’s the way they will continue to. This becomes another in a series of item veto decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court over the years.”
Branstad said the new system that replaced the closed offices is more efficient, but the president of AFSME has said the computer job stations can’t give the same help to job seekers that a live person can.
There was an IWD office budget hearing scheduled at the governor’s office this afternoon, but it was over by the time Radio Iowa arrived to cover the hearing. A staffer in the governor’s office said budget hearings were running ahead of schedule and the IWD hearing went quickly and was over before its scheduled time.