Iowa’s Republican governor says he wants legislators to quickly forward him a bill that would just provide immediate, stop-gap funding for key state programs that have run out of money, while the top Republican in the legislature plans to stick with negotiations on a broader package that includes tax policy, too.
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says Republicans and Democrats who’ve been negotiating on the spending Branstad seeks are nearing agreement on creation of a new “taxpayers relief fund,” too. “Basically we have agreed to everything but the exact language of the taxpayers relief fund,” Paulsen says.
And Paulsen expects agreement soon. Late last week the top Democrat in the Iowa Senate indicated he would start moving separate legislation that would provide an immediate cash infusion to pay bills at the state’s prison and Mental Health Institutes and to pay lawyers who’ve been representing indigent clients who can’t afford their own attorneys.
Governor Branstad says those are immediate priorities for him, too. “Those are essential things that are in that bill and those are things that I’d like to see approved now. I understand that there’s other issues that legislators have strong feelings about and I want to work with them on those issues,” Branstad says. “But I don’t think it’s fair to be holding up the payments for indigent defense and for these other critical health and safety issues.”
Another component of the bill — which both parties have agreed to — would conform Iowa tax law to recent federal changes, something Branstad says Iowans who’re filing their taxes are taking for granted as having been done already.