Democrats and Republicans in the Iowa House disagree over how many prison guards are needed in the state’s correctional system.  Representative Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, supports spending another $2 million which he says would be enought to hire 33 new prison guards.

“Public safety is directly compromised when our overcrowded prisons are operating with critically low staffing levels,” Taylor said during House debate Tuesday.

Representative Gary Worthan, a Republican from Storm Lake, said there must be a cut elsewhere if there’s more spending on prison staff.

“The other part of this is that it’s a fallacy to believe that putting $2 million into the system is going to…hire 33 new corrections officers,” Worthan said during House debate. “It’s going to take more like $8 million.”

Representative Helen Miller, a Democrat from Fort Dodge, said workers at the state prison in her city are worried and it’s time to boost prison staffing.

“This is not a joke,” Miller said. “This is very, very, very, very serious and I think it’s time for the state of Iowa to take a look at those who protect all of us from the worst of us.”

Worthan, the Republican who led drafting of the budget for the prisons, said the deal House Republicans struck with Senate Democrats does not call for the additional spending and House Republicans voted down the two-million more for prison guards.