The partisan stalemate over next year’s state budget continues, but the top Republican in the Iowa House says negotiations have “turned a corner.”

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says legislative leaders and the governor ‘made progress” this week. “Obviously the pace is going to need to quicken at some point, but right now we’re getting some of the larger pieces and having those discussions,” Paulsen says. “I think we’re moving down the road.” 

Democrats openly challenged Republican Governor Terry Branstad this week by asking Iowans to call Branstad and urge the governor to spend more on schools. Republicans, meanwhile, asked Iowans to call the top Democrat in the legislature and pressure him to back down. Paulsen suggests Republicans would agree to spend $65 million more on public K-through-12 education if Democrats agree to corresponding cuts in other areas of the state budget.

“We’re going to have to go back through the budget and find out where we get that from,” Paulsen says. Democrats have been pushing for a two percent increase in general, per pupil spending for schools, which would amount to 65 million dollars.

The new state budgeting year starts July 1, which seems to be a deadline of sorts for lawmakers of both parties to come to an agreement. However, Paulsen says the legislature could pass a one-month budget plan if budget negotiations are not resolved by July 1.

“I don’t think that’s the best solution,” Paulsen says. “The best solution is to continue to sit and work through this and figure it out.”

Paulsen made his comments this morning during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press,” which airs tonight at 7:30.