The days, and perhaps the hours, are numbered for this year’s Iowa Legislature. Republican leaders struck final deals with democrat Governor Tom Vilsack last night. The last-minute quibbling was over about three-million dollars in state spending — out of a more than five billion dollar budget plan. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says nearly everything has come together.House Speaker Brent Siegrist, a republican from Council Bluffs,says, “We’re grinding it up the middle and we’re gonna score.”Siegrist says Republicans went into the negotiations hoping to pressure Vilsack to scale back his wish-list. Siegrist says the governor wanted 87 million more dollars than legislators wanted to spend, and they will end up giving about 21 million.House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says yesterday’s private negotiations “broke the log jam.”But Rants says leaders of the state-supported Universities in Ames, Iowa City and Cedar Falls won’t be entirely pleased, as they’re not getting as much money as they wanted. I-S-U President Martin Jischke has predicted tuition increases of as much as 18-percent as a result.As a handful of legislative leaders sat negotiating in private with Governor Vilsack, the rank-and-file members of the Iowa House went outside yesterday afternoon for a catered picnic. Most of your elected Representatives paid three-25 to eat a hamburger or hot dog and salad, plus lemonade. Representative Donna Barry of Dunlap showed up with a picnic basket full of cookies she’d baked. Legislators, other statehouse staff and even a few reporters, lingered on the steps of the capitol with their picnic plates. Representative Bob Brunkhorst of Waverly rustled up a couple of trashcans.
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