Key leaders say they will not meet their target of finishing the 2012 legislative session this Tuesday. Key differences remain on major issues — from spending on education to reforming the state’s property tax system.
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, is one of the insiders involved in the negotiations over a more than $6 billion state spending plan.
“We’re working towards resolution,” Paulsen told reporters late last week.
Lawmakers failed last year to reach a deal that would reduce commercial property taxes, but Paulsen is still holding out hope for a compromise this year.
“The last piece of the negotiations is often the hardest,” Paulsen said.
Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, is predicting the legislature will conclude its work next week.
“People need to buckle down and decide and get it over with,” Kibbie said Friday.
Governor Branstad is less optimistic.
“I would hope that we could get done in the month of April,” Branstad said during an interview in his statehouse office. “I think that’s possible, but it’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take a lot of things getting worked out. Things are positioned that it could happen.”
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines is downright pessimistic because legislators didn’t do much Thursday, had no debate Friday and aren’t scheduled to do anything ’til one o’clock this afternoon.
“The mood of our members is frustration right now because we have people that want to work and debate these bills and shut down the session,” McCarthy told reporters.
Legislators get daily expense money in addition to their salary to cover the costs of staying away from home in Des Moines during the week, but that expense money runs out Tuesday. Paulsen, the top Republican in the legislature, dismisses the idea losing that extra spending money will make legislators more motivated to conclude the 2012 session.
“We’ve got a certain number of things we need to get done and we need to work on and we’re ready to what need to work on ’em and get done,” Paulsen said. “I mean, do people want to go home and get back to their constituents and the rest of their lives? I suppose so, but they’re not willing to compromise on their principles to do it, so we’ll work through it, but I think it’s reasonable to expect that can be done here fairly quickly.”
The House is likely to have a showdown this week on the abortion issue, as Republicans in the House plan to offer a proposal that would ensure no state funding goes to Planned Parenthood. Senators had a heated debate on the topic last Thursday.