Iowa’s lieutenant governor may lead a trade mission to China and South Korea next month if legislators and Governor Branstad don’t resolve their differences over the state budget. Branstad is scheduled to be gone on the trade trip from June 6-16.
“We do intend to go forward with the trade mission. If the legislature has not concluded, then I’m going to ask the lieutenant governor to lead it,” Branstad says. “We have about 40 people who are intending to go. That’ll be the largest trade mission I’ve been involved in since the first one I was involved in back when we went to Hong Kong, Korea and Japan back in 1984.”
Branstad just signed a letter with 20 other governors, urging congress to approve new trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. Branstad is expressing optimism his budget talks with legislators will wrap up soon and he’ll be able to make the trip to South Korea and China next month.
“I intend to work with the legislature and I’m very optimistic. I think we saw some movement late last week. I think there’s some interest in trying to get things resolved,” Branstad says. “…If it’s not concluded in time for the trade mission, I feel very confident the lieutenant governor can lead that trade mission and it’s important and we want to see that it goes foward.”
Most members of the Iowa House and Senate have been away from Des Moines this month as legislative leaders meet privately with the governor and his staff to hammer out the details of a plan for the state budgeting year that starts July 1st.
“You know, I’m pretty encouraged that we’re getting fairly close on some of the numbers…The details have to be worked out,” Branstad says. “But we’re going to very diligently and patiently work with both the House and Senate leadership to try to resolve those things and hopefully in a constructive way that can get it done in the not too distant future.”
Branstad says it appears to him there is “consensus” developing on a property tax relief package, although the governor is not releasing details on the tax plan or on the state spending decisions which are being discussed in private statehouse meetings.
Listen to the governor’s weekly news conference: BranstadMay23