Democrats call for special session


Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.

Matthew Rezab

Iowa Democrats are calling for a special legislative session in an attempt to override Gov. Terry Branstad’s line item veto of the one-time, $55.7 million supplement to the 1.25 percent increase in education funding negotiated and passed by the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The call to action was initiated Monday by House Democrats. Sen. Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said Senate Democrats would also join the effort.

At least two-thirds of lawmakers must sign a petition in order for the legislature to convene for a special session. Another two-thirds must vote to overturn a veto. Every Democrat and 10 Republicans in each house would be required for a successful override.

Senate Republicans said they don’t believe it will happen.

“Senate Republicans will not sign such a petition,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix said Tuesday in a statement. “This puts an end to the discussion on the topic.”

Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said he did not believe there is enough support from House Republicans to garner a two-thirds vote.

The “one-time” education funding included $6.3 million in additional funding for Iowa’s three regent universities. Iowa State was set to receive almost $2.3 million to offset the cost of a third straight tuition freeze before Branstad’s veto.

“Gov. Branstad’s surprising vetoes of one-time funding for K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities continues to make no sense to a majority of Iowans,” Gronstal said in a statement on Tuesday. “The governor’s vetoes are especially egregious in light of the fact that the legislature worked in a bipartisan fashion to avoid using one-time money to fund ongoing needs and the legislature’s overall spending level was actually below the governor’s.”

Although the funding legislation declared that the money could not be used for annual expenses, Branstad said his veto of the extra funding was based on budgeting principles. He said he does not believe one-time funding should be used for annual expenses such as salaries.

“I’ve been crystal clear about using one-time money for ongoing expenses from the day that I came back as governor,” Branstad told reporters Monday morning.

The Daily was referred to the Iowa Board of Regents communications director by ISU spokespeople when requesting a comment about the status of the tuition freeze from administrators. The board released this statement on July 2.