The 51 Republicans in the Iowa House are the lone hold-outs in state budget negotiations. Democrats in the House and Senate, plus Senate Republicans, have all endorsed an eight-and-a-half percent increase in state spending, and Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack is on-board, too. “Let’s just be realistic about this. Senate Republican have agreed. Senate Democrats have agreed. House Democrats have agreed. I’ve basically indicated a willingness to work with this budget. Almost all the interest groups that have an interest in the budget are willing to go with this budget,” Vilsack says. “What can House Republicans essentially do at the end of the day?” Vilsack says the 51 House Republicans can continue to say no, but they’re faced with a dilemma. One of the 51 is leaving next weekend on a two-week trip, and with just 50 remaining, the House Republicans wouldn’t have enough votes to stand in the way, or get their own way on the budget. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, has criticized the spending plan all other parties in the statehouse have developed, using words like “ridiculous” to describe the spending level. None of the Senate Republican leaders have talked to Rants and the other Republicans in the House since Monday, and Governor Vilsack hasn’t talked to Rants, either. “I’ve been advised…that we basically have to give them a little space,” Vilsack says. “By a psychologist?” asked a reporter. “Talking to Hayden Fry again?” another reporter asked. “We’re not painting the capitol pink,” Vilsack replied.Former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry painted the locker room for opponents pink, hoping it would calm them.
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