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      Gov. Branstad holds public budget hearings

      Gov. Terry Branstad is starting a series of public budget hearings to get input from state department heads.

      Branstad on Friday heard from several departments, including Iowa Veterans Affair, the Iowa Board of Parole and the Iowa Public Defender. Department representatives spoke about budget needs for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, as well as their ongoing goals.

      Branstad says he will take further department testimony and hear from the public before he finalizes a budget plan.

      Branstad will present a spending plan to the Iowa Legislature in January. The current budget includes nearly $6.5 billion in general fund spending.