The Iowa Senate debated a budget-cutting bill until nearly three o’clock this morning, when it cleared the Senate with the bare minimum 26 votes needed for passage. The bill would trim about 128-million dollars from the state budget, and all the budget-cutting ideas came from a consultant group hired by the Governor. Most of the savings — 70 million dollars — comes from reducing state payments to cities and counties. That drew the ire of some lawmakers, including Senator Bob Brunkhorst, a republican from Waverly. Brunkhorst called the bill “a joke” and said it was shifting costs to local governments.Brunkhorst says the bill’s “sickening” and an “embarassment.” But Senator Jeff Lamberti , a republican from Ankeny, says the plan is better than an across-the-board cut in state government. With a majority of counties losing population, Lamberti says Iowans can’t afford to do things the same way. Lamberti says the cuts do cause a bit of pain, but Lamberti says there’s some hope the state can do things a little bit differently and “reinvent” the way it conducts business. Tempers flared around the midnight hour as Senator Keith Kreiman, a democrat from Bloomfield, grilled Republican Senator Maggie Tinsman of Bettendorf on details of a 10-million dollar cut to state child welfare programs. Tinsman said she didn’t know what Kreiman was trying to do and said she isn’t a lawyer. Another good share of the cuts — 20-million dollars worth — are made in state funding for Area Education Agencies. The House is expected to debate the plan today.
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