At least one Republican senator may be a “no” vote on all three of the men Republican Governor Terry Branstad has asked to serve on the board that governs the state universities.
Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, says he’s been “frustrated” with the Board of Regents for years.
“It’s a group of political insiders, political contributors, sometimes wealthy people — and I have no problem with wealthy people. I want everybody to succeed,” Zaun says, “but they’re not average, ordinary parents that are pulling that checkbook out, writing those checks to those Regents schools and I don’t believe that the Board of Regents is looking out for the best interests of the students and the parents.”
Zaun says skyrocketing tuition and fees are his prime concern.
“And I — full disclosure — have a son that’s at UNI and he’s transferring to the University of Iowa, so I’m one of those parents who’s pulling that checkbook out,” Zaun says. “I’m not advocating for (myself) and, of course, I couldn’t be on the Board of Regents, but we need more average, ordinary Iowans on the Board of Regents.”
The governor has appointed a construction company executive and a Webster City doctor to the Board and asked senators to confirm Board of Regents president Craig Lang for another six-year term as well. Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix predicts all 24 Republicans in the senate — including Zaun — will support the governor’s nominees to the Board of Regents.
“I think Senator Zaun just wants to get some answers to some questions,” Dix says, “and I believe when he gets those answers he’ll be there and be solidly behind them.”
Zaun says he reserves the right to change his opinion — but right now he’s intending to vote no.
“I’m not going to get into a war of words with Senator Dix, but he’s not asked me where I’m going to be,” Zaun says.
A spokesman for Governor Branstad says Craig Lang and Robert Cramer “have the governor’s full support and confidence and he looks forward to their leadership on the Regents.” Tim Albrecht, the governor’s communications director, says the last thing Iowa needs is a “Washington, D.C.-style political battle.”
All the governor’s appointments to state boards and commissions must be confirmed by the state senate, and must win the support of two-thirds or 34 senators in order to serve.