DES MOINES – The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Terry Branstad’s line-item veto of last year that effectively closed 36 Iowa Workforce Development offices in the state.
In a 20-page ruling issued Friday, Justice Thomas Waterman wrote for the majority saying the governor’s item veto was “unconstitutional” and remanded the case to district court.
The issue stems from Branstad’s line-item veto of Senate File 517 last year. The governor eliminated language in the bill that required the state spend money to operate the same number of unemployment offices that were open at the time the bill passed.
But the governor used some of the money appropriated for the offices for other purposes. That led to a lawsuit by a group of Democratic lawmakers and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61 President Danny Homan.
Branstad lost the case at the district level in December. The Iowa Supreme Court heard the case on Feb. 21 during a rare evening session of the court.
“This is a huge victory for Iowans hoping to find a job,” said Waterloo Sen. Bill Dotzler, one of the plaintiffs in the case in a statement issued Friday.
“It was a mistake to close dozens of local workforce offices during a severe economic recession and when returning soldiers are looking for work,” said plaintiff Sen. Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge in the same statement. “Let’s work together to fix that mistake.”
It was not immediately clear if and when Branstad planned to reopen the closed offices, which included centers in Charles City and Algona.
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