DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Terry Branstad said Tuesday that he vetoed part of a budget bill because there was no way to ensure schools wouldn't use allotted one-time funding to cover teacher salaries and other ongoing expenses.
The legislation sought $135 million, including nearly $56 million for K-12 education, and specified the funding could only be used for one-time expenses such as text books and other instructional materials. Branstad indicated he didn't believe that language was enforceable and vetoed the funding despite heated criticism from Democrats.
"What is salaries for teachers? It's an ongoing expense," Branstad said after a private bill signing at the Capitol.
The governor sidestepped questions about the language specifying how the money could be used. But when pressed, he said he agreed that it wasn't enforceable.
Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, of Hiawatha, reiterated Tuesday that language in the bill would have prevented Branstad's scenario. But he stopped short of criticizing the governor.
Democratic leaders have criticized Branstad over the veto and called for a special session to reconsider the budget proposal. The governor and Republican leaders said they don' believe Democrats have enough GOP support to call a special session, which would require a two-thirds vote from lawmakers in the House and Senate.
"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," Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said in a prepared statement.
Branstad approved nearly $7.2 billion in ongoing general fund expenses for the current fiscal year.