The gloomy weather outside the statehouse yesterday matched the mood of legislative leaders inside. Neither the House nor Senate will be working today (Friday) — rank-and-file legislators were sent home Wednesday night and their leaders tried to negotiate a state budget agreement yesterday, with Governor Tom Vilsack sitting in.”I think progress is being made, but I wouldn’t characterize us as being close to final agreement on all points,” Vilsack says. “I think there’s a process that we agreed to that will perhaps focus on some areas that will be more easily resolved next week.” But in dueling news conferences held Thursday before that meeting with Vilsack, Republicans and Democrats seemed quite contrary. House Democrat Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque threatened Democrats would talk and talk and talk to stall action on Republican legislation they don’t like. “They’d better bring their sleeping bags. They’d better bring their tents and they’d better bring their toothbrushes,” Murphy said. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, shot back. “I think that’s unfortunate that the Democrats would now stand up and say that their method for ending this discussion or this disagreement is one of obstruction and filibuster and taking bills hostage,” Rants said. Murphy claimed it’s Republicans who’re the obstructionists but refusing to negotiate. Murphy says the Legislature’s headed for a “train wreck” that could put state services at risk if things aren’t resolved soon for the new state fiscal year begins July 1st. But Rants, the Republican, refuses to rush to resolve their differences. “Don’t need to be here at two o’clock in the morning…There’s no reason to run around the clock. People don’t make good decisions at two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning,and I think our track record is such that we haven’t don that in the past.” Rants said.
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