The statehouse struggle over state spending continues, with no end in sight. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack needs to broker the budget deal. “I think the governor ought to be in the state to help us,” Iverson says. Vilsack returned last night from a trip to Massachusetts. “I see (Vilsack) as being a very integral part of this,” Iverson says. “All of (legislative) leadership and the governor need to sit down…and he needs to be here.” Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the governor is never more than a phone call away. “It is a bit difficult to herd the cats around here, I would grant you that, but we all are available to each other by phone. We all have each other’s cell phone numbers,” Gronstal says. “We’re in communication when we need to be in communication.” The House has passed a handful of bills this week. The Senate has not passed any bills. Iverson concedes that’s not much action. “I’d say progress is being made in very slow increments, let’s put it that way,” Iverson says. Gronstal, the Democrat, concedes there are dozens of issues of contention that need to be resolved before the legislature can conclude its work.”Probably have to take your shoes off to get to the number (of disagreements),” Gronstal told reporters Wednesday afternoon. Gronstal is more optimistic than Iverson is about prospect that the two political parties will get their disagreements resolved. “I wouldn’t say it was wide open. I wouldn’t say it was half open. I wouldn’t say it was a quarter open, but the window has opened just a tiny bit,” Gronstal said. Both Gronstal and Iverson agree the Legislature will probably not wrap up its work this week. “While the public may grow frustrated with the process to reach resolution on these issues, we do not think it’s time to cut and run,” Gronstal says.
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