Later this week Governor Chet Culver will reveal his plan for state spending for the next budgeting year, which starts July 1st. Legislative leaders of both parties expect
Culver’s proposal to include some deep cuts, given the recent downturn in the economy and the corresponding downturn in state tax receipts. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs has repeatedly said lawmakers will be saying, "No" a lot, but he’s giving few clues about which groups or agencies might be the biggest losers.
"I think it’s too early to tell what we’re going to do, overall, on the state budget," Gronstal says. "…We’re going to try and come up with a budget that works for the state of Iowa, meets Iowans’ needs, but is fiscally responsible."
House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha says the budget will preoccupy legislators all year long. "Nothing we’re going to do here is going to be able to move out from under the shadow or the cloud of the budget mess we’re in," Paulsen says.
Today marks the state of the third week of the 2009 legislative session, but Senator Gronstal concedes not much was done in the first two weeks. Week one was filled with pomp and circumstance and organizational meetings, according to Gronstal, and in week two some legislators went to Washington to attend Obama’s inaugural and many went to Marion on Wednesday to attend the funeral of a former state senator.
"So, yes, this first two weeks has (not seen) a lot of activity, but we do have the organizational parts done," Gronstal says. "…We’re through that part of the process."
Gronstal says he expects Culver to present his budget plan to lawmakers on Wednesday.