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,” Waterloo Sen. Bill Dotzler, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement.

“It was a mistake to close dozens of local work force offices during a severe economic recession and when returning soldiers are looking for work,” said Sen. Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge in the same statement. “Let’s work together to fix that mistake.”

It was not immediately clear if or when Branstad planned to reopen the closed offices.


The Associated Press at 9:48 a.m.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court says Gov. Terry Branstad did not have the authority to veto funding for Iowa Workforce Development offices last year.

For most measures approved by lawmakers, the governor must either accept or reject them entirely. On spending measures, he has line-item veto power to reject individual components of a bill.

Branstad used that power last year to close Workforce Development offices.

A lawsuit charged that he exceeded his authority. In December a Polk County judge agreed.

The Supreme Court says that ruling was correct and the veto was unconstitutional

Several lawmakers sued Branstad. They argued that the governor exceeded his veto power by rejecting the offices but keeping the $3 million approved to run them.

Branstad has said the case is a test of the governor's authority.