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Iowa Gov. Branstad weighing $7.3 billion spending plan for state

Iowa Gov. Branstad weighing $7.3 billion spending plan for state

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DES MOINES (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad declined Monday to say whether he will sign off on the entire $7.3 billion spending plan approved by the Legislature last week.

Branstad said he needs to review all the budget bills backed by the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate.

A key piece in the one-time spending bill is $55.7 million for schools in the coming academic year. The governor did not signal his intent but said he was not a fan of one-time spending, saying “you really can’t use it for salaries because it’s not going to be there the next year.”

Branstad also criticized lawmakers for failing to approve K-12 education funding for the 2016-17 school year, but he did not say whether he would try to call lawmakers back in a special session.

“The Legislature just completed its work on Friday. I know they had a very difficult time coming together, and I know there were some strong feelings on both sides,” Branstad said. “But I’m the chief executive of the state. I’ve heard from schools and I’ve heard from Iowans that they don’t like this constant fight.”

Another item that remains up in the air is a compromise plan to provide funding to two mental health institutions slated for closure. Branstad said it was under review, but noted that the state was changing the way mental health services are delivered.

“We don’t want to go back to the way we delivered mental health services back in the 19th century,” he said.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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