Legislative leaders from both political parties and Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack met for just 10 minutes this morning to talk about their impasse over the state budget.
Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says not much was accomplished in today’s meeting. “I don’t think the gulf is too wide to breach,” Gronstal says. “I would not characterize this as progress.” Gronstal says leaders from both parties will continue to meet to try to resolve their ifferences. “But at this point it is a stalemate,” Gronstal says.
House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp of Decorah says he believes a “little progress” has been made. “We don’t agree that there’s a stalemate at all,” Gipp says. He says the two sides are “comparing numbers” right now to ensure they’re all agreeing on what was in the budget draft House Republicans came up with. “It’s a feeling out process,” Gipp says. “But to describe this as a stalemate I think is very premature.”
Gronstal, the leader of Senate Democrats, says he’s not saying a resolution isn’t possible. “Don’t misunderstand me. I did not express pessimism,” Gronstal says. “I believe reasonable people are in that room and reasonable people can find common ground.”
Sources say Governor Vilsack has offered one compromise to the G-O-P. Republicans want to gradually erase the state tax on pensions and Social Security income, and Democrats like Governor Vilsack want to raise the cigarette tax, and that trade-off could be one of the deals that’s struck to end the budget impasse.
But today, Gipp’s not biting. Gipp says it’s fundamentally unfair that Democrats think they have to spend all the state tax revenue that’s available, while when Republican propose something that’ll reduce state tax revenue, Democrats insist there has to be a tax increase somewhere else to off-set that loss. Legislative leaders will meet with the governor, by phone, on Monday to continue their budget discussions.