- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday that he vetoed several budget items that lawmakers had approved because he opposes one-time spending for ongoing expenses.

Branstad said he has long been clear about his concerns over such budgeting practices. Last week, he vetoed much of a one-time spending bill backed by the Legislature that included nearly $56 million for K-12 education.

But Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, of Hiawatha, said the money in question was supposed to go to one-time expenses. He said lawmakers put language in the bill to make clear that schools “should not expect the money again.”

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, criticized the vetoes in a statement, saying they were “especially egregious in light of the fact that the Legislature has worked in a bipartisan fashion to not use one-time money to fund ongoing needs and the Legislature’s overall spending level was actually below the Governor’s.”

On Monday, House Democrats called for a special legislative session to override Branstad’s veto. Ron Parker, staff director for Senate Democrats, said Gronstal had a conference call scheduled Monday night with other senators to discuss the option.

Josie Albrecht, a spokeswoman for House Republicans, said lawmakers in the chamber don’t believe there is enough support for a special session.

Democrats and education leaders say the veto will hurt schools and could lead to larger class sizes and fewer resources. Branstad says he has made other investments in education, including a teacher leadership program created under his watch. The budget also includes an increase in ongoing basic school aid.

After Branstad’s actions, the state will spend nearly $7.2 billion in ongoing general fund expenses in the current fiscal year. The Legislature sought $135 million in one-time payments, but Branstad cut that to $56 million. That money comes from surplus fund dollars left at the end of the previous fiscal year.

In addition to vetoing some dollars for K-12 education, Branstad vetoed one-time money for higher education and a deal to keep two state mental health institutes open.

The vetoes came after a particularly difficult legislative session in which lawmakers disagreed over how to spend the state’s money. By using some one-time spending, Republicans could maintain a pledge to keep ongoing spending in line with projected revenues, while Democrats got more money for key priorities such as education.

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