Republicans at the statehouse intend to roll all state spending plans for next year into one huge bill. The bill will be several hundred pages long, and will outline over four-and-a-half billion dollars worth of state spending. Democrats like Senator Joel Bolkcom of Iowa City complain republicans sprung the details on them, and then asked ’em to vote on parts of the deal yesterday in budget subcommittees.Bolkcom says “it’s a lousy way to go about considering a budget.” Senate Democrat Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs says republicans are trying to rush things through to avoid public scrutiny. Gronstal says republicans have quit listening to the people of Iowa and will create huge problems with the budget they’re pursuing. Others complain the public has little chance to comment or even find out what’s in the budget. But republicans like House Appropriations Committee chairman Bill Dix of Shell Rock says that’s a “hollow charge.” Dix says democrats are playing “partisan politics” because there’s still a chance for public input when the bill’s considered in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and on the House and Senate floor. Dix says this is a year in which lawmakers have about the same amount to spend as last year, and for most areas of the budget, nothing much is changing and it’s “status quo.” House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says budget subcommittees have been holding public meetings for weeks and there’s no attempt to stymie public examination of the G-O-P budget plan. He says it will go through the House and Senate appropriations committees and it will take weeks before it’s finally approved, and he says that will give plenty of time for public input.The behemoth budget plan will be considered early next week in the Senate Appropriations Committee and could be debated in the full Senate later in the week.
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