Statehouse negotiators have reached a tentative deal to keep the Iowa Workforce Development agency operating ’til June 30th. In mid-March the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Governor Branstad overstepped his item veto authority by taking money legislators set aside to keep regional Workforce Development offices open.
The governor instead let agency managers shut the offices down and use the money elsewhere. Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, was one of the legislators who successfully sued Branstad over this decision.
He has been involved in discussions to fix the agency’s budget, because the court decision also nullified key parts of agency’s budget.
“Even though the department says they saved $6.5 million with closing the offices, they spent it elsewhere and you can’t back a train down the tracks very far,” Dotzler says. Legislators and the governor have agreed on a “status quo” budget plan that will carry the agency through to the end of the state fiscal year, according to Dotzler.
“The real discussion needs to continue to move forward on the FY13 budget and that’s probably where we’re going to bang some heads,” Dotzler says. The next 12-month budget plan runs from July 1st of this year to June 30th of 2013.
Dotzler says Democrats will press to reopen some of the offices that were closed, in cities like Ames, Newton, Pella and Denison.