State lawmakers return to the capitol today to resume work on the state budget and other priorities. Democrats who have the majority in both the House and Senate, promise to pass a jobs bill to help put thousands of Iowans back to work.

Republican leaders say they’ve been shut out of the discussions. Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton says lawmakers have wasted their time on less important bills. “We’re well into the midpoint of the session and we’ve yet to talk about jobs,” McKinely says. He says the new unemployment figures continue to show a downturn in the economy.

McKinley says job creation should have been their first priority. “Here we are midway through the session. That should have been one of the topics we discussed from day one. How many days have we sat our there on the floor and adjourned at 8:50? There’s been plenty of times to talk about those issues that are important top Iowans, and we haven’t done it,” McKinley says.

A democratic working group is considering new infrastructure projects using bond proceeds from last year’s jobs bill to create jobs. Democrats are also exploring the possibility of two-tiered unemployment insurance. While the recession continues, employers would pay a lower rate for new hires if they promise to keep them on the payroll for at least a year.