Governor Branstad wrapped up his 43-city “Working Together for a Better Future” tour with a stop in Mason City Thursday afternoon.
That final stop came a day after negotiations over the state budget stalled again at the statehouse, with Senate Democrats vowing to return next week to approve their own version of the budget.
Branstad, who is a Republican, says he’s still optimistic the dispute can get resolved before July 1, when the next state budgeting year begins.
“We’ve always been able to do it in the state of Iowa,” Branstad says. “We may have to put in some long hours to get it accomplished, but I have no reason to believe it can’t be accomplished.”
The legislature is in its seventh week of overtime. The full House has debated just one day this month. The full Senate hasn’t met since late May. Legislative leaders from the two parties have been meeting privately with two members of the governor’s staff to try to strike a deal on the budget and property tax reform, but there wasn’t a meeting Thursday after Wednesday’s blow up.
“We’ve had a lot of these ups and downs. You know, I think it can be worked out. Everybody needs to do what they can to keep their cool and work,” Branstad says. “But we need to make sure that we have a sustainable budget, not using the gimmicks of the past, but something where we honestly spend less than we take in each year and something that will be sustainable for the long term.”
Senate Democrats intend to convene the 50-member Senate on Monday to pass a series of bills that outline their state spending priorities, plus a bill that would extend a tax credit for business property owners. The Democrats’ property tax plan is markedly different from the one House Republicans support which would cut commercial and industrial property tax rates by 25 percent over five years.
(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KGLO/KLSS/KRIB, Mason City)