Most of the 150 members of the Iowa Legislature are at home today (Wednesday). It’s day 19 of overtime for the 2005 Iowa Legislature. Only a few lawmakers are in Des Moines, talking about ways to resolve their differences over state spending. Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Dows, isn’t very optimistic anything will be different today than it was yesterday. “I’d say very little progress has been made,” Iverson says. The other Senate Co-Leader, Democrat Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, says there’s no agreement on key issues. “One of our big sticking points is the House (Republicans) won’t agree pay for the sex offender law they passed,” Gronstal says. “Now, is it just partisan rhetoric that they’re tough on crime or are they willing to put dollars behind it? And right now, they aren’t willing to put dollars behind it.” Republicans reject Gronstal’s accusation. Senator Gene Fraise, a Democrat from Fort Madison, was among a small group of lawmakers who met with prison officials to talk about the problem. “I hope we get out of here in a couple of weeks,” Fraise says. “It’s got to end somewhere.” Yesterday (Tuesday), some legislators suggested the budget standoff might continue past July 1st when the state budgeting year begins, a situation that could throw state government into chaos or a shutdown. Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says that’s not going to happen. “I don’t see us heading to a July 1st deadline at this point,” Lamberti says. “We’re going to keep the people here (who) need to the work. We’re going to keep talking and try to find a resolution.” Lamberti says Republicans have “no interest” in shutting down state government. He says lawmakers have a month and a half to get their work done. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says lawmakers won’t toss state government into disarray on July 1st. “We’re going to try to find a way to resolve this,” Rants says. “That’s our goal.” The budget plan that House Republicans endorsed four weeks ago called for an eight percent increase in state spending. About three weeks ago, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate joined to endorse an eight-and-a-half percent spending increase. Iverson, the Republican leader in the Senate, has regrets. “We’ve spent way too much money and I think it would make more sense if we were at the four- or five-percent level,” Iverson says. “But we’re way past that, so where do we reach agreement? That’s the elusive thing we haven’t found yet.” Iverson isn’t suggesting cutting back that spending plan, though. Iverson calls that a “noble” goal, but he doesn’t expect any “back up” in state spending plan. “That horse has already left the barn,” Iverson says. Lamberti suggests if lawmakers and the governor left the statehouse, things might get resolved. “If I could get all the leaders on a fishing boat, I bet I could get a deal together” Lamberti says.
You are here: / Most Legislators stay home, no budget deal yet