Republican legislative leaders are skeptical the state can afford the agenda Vilsack outlined today, but Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, says republicans aren’t ready to rule anything out yet. “This is a political speech. The details have to follow,” Lamberti says. “So we’re going to reserve judgement until we see the numbers.” Lawmakers expect Vilsack to unveil his budget plan in late January. House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp of Decorah says the governor gave a very inspiring speech. “It was easy to stand up for a portion of it because as you’ll remember during the campaigns we (ran) on some of these things,” Gipp says. “We also temper some of our enthusiasm because we haven’t yet seen how the governor is going to pay for some of these proposals.” House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says the governor needs to provide more details soon. “The governor always gives a great speech,” Rants says. “I’m not sure exactly what he’s talking about in a cigarette tax increase. To me it sounded like three dollars a pack. I can’t believe that’s the case. That’s an awfully long list of things to do.” Rants says Vilsack laid out “lofty goals” which aren’t necessarily unattainable, but Rants says it’s how policymakers accomplish and pay for those goals that’s the trick. Republicans hold a 51 to 49 seat edge in the Iowa House. In the Senate, there’s an equal number of republicans and democrats. Mike Gronstal, a democrat from Council Bluffs who is the Senate’s Co-leader, supports the governor’s call for consolidation of governments.”We have a real opportunity to work on transforming our property tax system and the start of that is by creating better opportunities for local governments to deliver services more efficiently and deliver those services together,” Gronstal says.
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