The leader of the 51 Republicans in the Iowa House is in no hurry to back down in the state budget debate. The Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and Democrat Governor Vilsack have agreed to a roughly eight-and-a-half percent increase in next year’s state budget. Republican House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City suggests this may be a long, drawn-out dispute. “No hurry. We’re not bound by clock or calendar, so we’ll do what we think we need to do,” Rants says.” Rants does not intend to allow a vote on an increase in the state cigarette tax, nor does he intend to accept the spending levels outlined by the Senate. “Somebody’s got to defend the taxpayer in this state, and that job falls to…51 Republican who serve in the House,” Rants says. Two weeks ago the House endorsed its own state budget outline which calls for a six percent spending increase. Representative Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, says he’ll resist efforts to get the House to concede to the Senate’s higher, eight-and-a-half percent spending boost. “My seven-year-old’s in first grade and he’ll come back a lot of times and say ‘Well, dad, everybody’s doing it,'” Dix says. “Just because there are others that are saying we can spend more I don’t think that necessarily makes the argument that we simply need to take what the Senate has approved.” The first bill the House is likely to consider today won’t have a thing to do with spending, however. This afternoon, the House is scheduled to consider the changes the Senate made in the bill that toughens penalties for sex offenders.
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