Earlier this year, the Iowa legislature enacted a budget that shields three dozen state unemployment offices from Gov. Terry Branstad’s (R) desire to close those offices. In response, Branstad used a line-item veto to remove the prohibition on closing these offices from the bill, and proceeded with a plan to shut them down and replace them with a series of computer kiosks. Unfortunately for Branstad, however, this targeted veto was just declared unconstitutional:
The lawsuit contended that a governor cannot redirect money struck through a line-item veto. The lawsuit cites a successful court case in 2004 when Republicans sued Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack over line-item veto authority.
Polk County Judge Brad McCall agreed, saying that for Branstad’s veto to be valid he must also veto the allocation.
To clarify, the Iowa constitution allows Gov. Branstad to either refuse to take a chunk of money appropriated by the legislature, or to take that money and spend it as the legislature directs him to. Instead, however, Branstad tried to have it both ways by taking the money the state legislature appropriated to keep the 36 unemployment offices open, and then reallocating it to computer kiosks. It remains to be seen whether Branstad will appeal this decision.