After meeting for 13 weeks, Republicans and Democrats in the Iowa legislature have yet to agree on spending levels for next year’s state budget, but the top two leaders in the legislature say there’ll be no government shut-down here.
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says there’s a “healthy dialogue” at the statehouse. “There’s going to be some things we disagree on that aren’t going to happen,” Paulsen says. “But I think we also all recognize that we need to govern and we’re going to get the work done for Iowans.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says there will “absolutely not” be anything like the federal government shutdown that’s looming. “I’d just gently say Speaker Paulsen and I are smarter than they are in Washington, D.C.,” Gronstal says. “We’re going to figure out a way to govern. We’re going to look for common ground. We’re going to set the things we disagree with aside and we’re going to find a way to govern.”
Iowa’s legislative branch has the same partisan make-up as the legislative branch in the federal government, with Republicans in control of the debate agenda in the Iowa House and the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats in control of the both the Iowa Senate and the U.S. Senate. Gronstal says that scenario is nothing new in Iowa, as the Iowa Senate was split evenly, 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, in 2005 and 2006.
“We’ve got lots of experience in this kind of a world, split-government in Iowa,” Grosntal says. “We’ve had split government in many different forms over the 29 years I’ve been in the legislature.”
Paulsen says he’s been “very satisfied” with progress at the statehouse in Des Moines. “It’s been slower, probably, than any of us like, but I think we’re laying a proper foundation so that we can find a way to make the decisions that have to be made as we move through the next several weeks,” Paulsen says.
Paulsen and Gronstal — the top two leaders in Iowa’s legislature — are the guests on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television and the two men made their comments during the show’s taping this morning.
Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, has vowed to veto budget bills he doesn’t like and call legislators back into special session again and again until he gets what he wants, a showdown that could result in a state government shutdown if it’s not resolved by June 30, 2011.