- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has vetoed tens of millions of dollars in state spending that legislators had approved, with some of the biggest cuts targeting environmental protection and recreation projects.

Branstad trimmed an appropriation of $25 million approved by the Legislature for the Resource Enhancement and Protection fund, which helps pay for trails, parks and other outdoor recreation, to $16 million, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/T1z2Ji ).

Branstad also cut $11.2 million in state money for water quality and conservation programs under the Department of Agriculture.

“Obviously, I’m very disappointed by the governor’s decision,” said Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey. “This is a lost opportunity to do even more to build on the exciting momentum we are seeing around the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.”

Branstad said he supports many of the programs to which he applied cuts but is focused on keeping the state’s budget stable.

“Maintaining the fiscal health of Iowa over the long term is my top budgeting priority,” he said in a statement.

Other cuts Branstad made included:

- $18.6 million for construction at Iowa State University’s agricultural and biosystems engineering complex.

- $14 million for routine maintenance or major repairs of state buildings. Branstad said another $14 million remains available for those purposes.

- $8 million for renovation of the University of Iowa’s dental science building.

- $3 million for the University of Northern Iowa’s advanced manufacturing center.

- $2 million toward a new pharmacy building at the University of Iowa; $2 million toward a new biosciences building at Iowa State University; and $2 million toward an educational center at the University of Northern Iowa.

- $1 million for radon testing at schools.

The line-item vetoes drew criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Council Bluffs Democrat.

“Iowans are disappointed again to see Gov. Branstad veto common-sense legislation that passed the Iowa House and Senate with strong support from Republican and Democratic legislators,” Gronstal said in a written statement.

The governor signed a bill approving $6 million to pare down waiting lists for special Medicaid programs for people with disabilities or brain injuries. Branstad had been criticized last year for vetoing $8.7 million for that purpose.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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