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Veto by Iowa Governor ruled unconstitutional

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December 13, 2011

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

By Greg Janetka

DES MOINES, Iowa: Polk District Court Judge Brad McCall ruled last Thursday that Governor Terry Branstad's line-item veto that closed 36 unemployment offices is unconstitutional. Branstad called the case a key test of gubernatorial authority and expressed confidence that the state Supreme Court would uphold the veto.

At a news conference yesterday Branstad stated, "It's really more of a question of precedent and the power of the governor to control spending through the item veto process. This is an important case because it is going to determine for the future and for future governors their ability to control spending and provide the best and most efficient services to the people of Iowa."[1]

The case began back in July when Branstad vetoed portions of a budget bill that would have prohibited closure of the offices. In taking the action, the governor stated that allowing the legislation to proceed would have hurt the ability of the Iowa Workforce Development Department from creating a more efficient system for helping the unemployed.[2]

The AFSCME and five state representatives filed suit in August, arguing the veto was unconstitutional as it redirected the money. Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal (D) stated, "You can't reject the purpose for the spending, but keep the money, which is exactly what he did."[1] The court agreed, stating the allocation would have to be vetoed as well in order for the action to be legal.[3]

Branstad said they are asking for a stay of the district court's decision, and will ask for an expedited review by the state Supreme Court.[4]


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