It’s week three of overtime as the Iowa Legislature returns today (Monday). Last week there was little action on legislation and for two days it was just legislative leaders in the capitol trying to hammer out their differences over state spending. Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says he will resist the idea of repeating that this week. “I don’t think that’s right,” says Gronstal. “I think everybody ought to be part of this process up here and their voices ought to be heard when it comes to the budget process.” Gronstal concedes getting the two parties to agree may be difficult. Gronstal says he doesn’t “have the roadmap” that would lead to completing the work of the 2005 Iowa Legislature. One complication has been the feud among Republicans in the House and Senate. Republicans share power in state Senate which is made up of 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats, and Senate Republicans joined with Democrats two weeks ago to endorse an eight-and-a-half percent increase in state spending. In late April, the Republicans in the House outlined a plan that calls for an eight percent hike in state spending. That half a percent difference is what all the fighting’s for, and House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, refuses to accept the label of obstructionist. “We want to find agreement,” Rants says, “I think our track record is such that we have.” Last week House Democrat Leader Pat Murphy vowed to talk and talk until Republicans capitulate, warning the G-O-P members of the House to bring their sleeping bag, tent and toothbrush because it will be a long, drawn-out budget battle.
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