Governor Vilsack called in from California this (Monday) morning to give legislative leaders his counter-offer on a tax cut for seniors. It’s all part of the negotiations on the state budget. Governor Vilsack wants five million more for teacher training — on top of 35 million for teacher salaries. The governor would phase in the tax cut for the elderly over eight years — rather than six years as Republicans propose. Vilsack also wants to scale back the tax cut for seniors by about three million dollars.

House Speaker Christopher Rants says that’s not really the direction Republicans want to go. “There is no deal” on the pension tax cut that’s part of Vilsack’s counter offer. “We have the potential that there are some retirees who would not live to see this tax cut,” Rants says. “That not exactly the direction we want to go.”

But Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says there are some Iowans who’ll die before the Republican’s plan would take effect. “Theirs is a six-year phase in,” Gronstal says. “They have the same problem with their proposal.”

Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says not much progress has been made. “I don’t think we’re interested in less tax relief and more spending,” Lundby says. Gronstal is slightly more optimistic a deal can be struck. “I believe that we are within inches of agreeing,” Gronstal says. The governor returns to Iowa Tuesday.