The Republican leader in the Iowa House says he’s approaching this work week with a different attitude. The Iowa Legislature is in its third week of overtime as Republicans and Democrats are still deadlocked over how big next year’s state budget should be. For the past three weeks, House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, has repeatedly said the state budget plan Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came up with spends too much. Rants will continue to say that, but in a different way. “I resolved that I was going to smile all week long,” Rants says. “Because I’m a happy, go-lucky kind of guy. Look, I know when the Senate was meeting and adding $117 MILLION more to spending, I was very upset by that and I came across that way in all forms of the media and frankly, I’m pleased with what’s going on now, that we’re settling the budgets and it’s more productive, I think, if we all, you know, try to make the best of what’s a bad situation.” Rants says he had a good weekend — he watched the first Star Wars movie with his two daughters and visited with voters. “They thought we should hold firm on the budget. I kind of heard the message ‘Stick to your guns, Mr. Speaker,’ so that’s what I’m inclined to do,” Rants says. A reporter followed up with this question. “Is your gun holstered or is it cocked?” Rants laughed. “I’m not sure I even want to go there,” he replied. The big sticking points for legislators are over education spending, how much state workers should be paid and whether the state cigarette tax should be doubled. Rants feels no pressure from voters to make those decisions quickly. “They’re not the ones that are stuck here in the capitol. There isn’t a voter out there (who’s) being negatively impacted because the legislature’s in session today, aside from our spouses. Our spouses and children are the ones (who) probably care, but the rest of the voters, the general public, they’re not negatively impacted whether we’re in session 110 days or 150 days,” Rants says. It does cost taxpayers some money to keep clerks for legislators around, but there are few in the capitol today (Monday) and Rants says on some days last week there were no clerks around to collect a paycheck, but just regular legislative staff who would be at the statehouse anyway and on the payroll.
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