One of the reasons lawmakers didn’t wrap up the 2004 legislative session yesterday was the furor over a vote in the House. In a surprise move late Thursday night, the House approved the idea of borrowing another 60 million dollars for state economic development programs that hand out grants for community projects as small as a gazebo and as large as a sports arena. A weary House Speaker Christopher Rants sat down with reporters Friday afternoon, and opened with a yawn. Rants says “there’s a surprise around every corner.”Rants did not vote for the borrowing plan, which Senate republicans call “ridiculous” and refuse to approve. The impasse will be among the must-do items lawmakers will tackle on Monday in hopes of wrapping up the 2004 Legislative session sometime Monday or Tuesday. Republican lawmakers are also trying to strike a deal with democrat Governor Tom Vilsack over education spending. For the past two months there’s been a stalemate over how much the state will promise to spend on K-through-12 public schools for the 2005/2006 school year. Senators this past week voted to promise a three percent increase in general state aid, plus another one percent on top of that if the economy keeps improving and state tax collections grow. The House hasn’t gone along with that deal yet as Rants is hoping to get Vilsack to agree to some spending reforms in return.Rants, who is a republican from Sioux City, on Friday was unwilling to tell reporters the details of his latest offer to the governor. Rants says he’s “not going to negotiate with the governor in the pages of the newspaper and the airwaves of the radio.” He says public negotiating doesn’t usually turn out well.
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