Representative Ro Foege
Report from the Iowa Legislature
November 12, 2001
The 2001 Special Session
The special session on November 8, 2001 was a win for Iowas families
and children. We are in difficult times and legislators were faced with
difficult choices. As I stated in last week's report, in making the necessary
cuts, we must make certain that vulnerable children and adults are protected.
This was a test to determine the priorities and values of Iowans. I believe we passed the test. We were successful in addressing our economic
challenges while valuing Iowas families and children.
An economic downturn and the resulting declining revenues forced Governor Tom
Vilsack to reduce state spending by 4.3% across the board. As a result, many
of the services provided by state government will be affected. The Iowa General Assembly met in session on Thursday to restore spending in a few
key areas. The Governor has the authority to implement an across the board cut,
but only the legislature has the authority to appropriate money. Therefore, the special session was necessary for legislators to work out agreements
to restore some areas of the budget reduced by the cuts.
Working together, putting political posturing aside, the legislature was
able to restore funding to our schools. Iowans want good schools for their children, and this restoration will allow our efforts to reduce class
size and modernize our classrooms to continue. In addition to our K-12 schools,
our hard-hit community colleges will also see some of their lost revenue returned. And, we were able to restore some of the funds for the Iowa
Tuition Grant Program.
Equally as important, legislators stepped in to ensure the public's safety in
these uncertain times. The National Guard now has the funding to defend our
state. The Highway Patrol will continue to protect our roads and highways. The crime labs and investigators will be able to continue with their
important work. With the threat of bio-terrorism, I promoted the restoration
of funds to the University Hygienic Laboratory, the facility which tests for
anthrax and other potential threats to our health and well-being. The 4.3% cut in state dollars to that facility were completely restored.
During the one day special session, agreement was reached on proposals for an
early retirement plan for state employees, an ambitious overhaul of the Department of Human Services and clearly identified the role of the
states new homeland security advisor. We were successful in protecting the
honored veterans who reside at the Iowa Veterans Home by restoring $2.1 million.
An additional $3 million went to the Department of Human Services to ensure the
safety of children by keeping front-line child protection workers on the job.
The decisions made Thursday were done so in a fiscally responsible way. We have left a cushion of more than $40 million to handle the economic
downturn. Using current predictions by economists, this should be enough to weather
this year's storm. Of course, the legislature will return in regular session
in January to handle any unforeseen problems. We were able to protect the most vulnerable citizens of Iowa. The special session was a win for
Iowas families and children.
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