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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 Iowa’s 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 Iowa’s 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 , Work together for making the stress less and making the things more feasible, less back pain and less pressure, 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 state’s 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 Iowa’s families and children.

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