Two key legislative leaders are expressing optimism about the prospect for striking an agreement on the state budget and avoiding a state government shut-down.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, expects the legislature to wrap up its work next week, just before the next state budgeting year begins on Friday, July 1.

“We’re running out of time and there’s not a whole lot of margin for error,” Paulsen says. 

House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines senses a shift in momentum on budget negotiations.

“I do feel things are moving in a positive direction,” McCarthy says.

Representative Mark Lofgren of Muscatine made an appeal for divine intervention as he delivered the opening prayer in the House today.

“Please allow us to come to agreement soon,” Lofgren prayed. “Thanks so much. Amen.”

The House speaker says he’s “more than happy” to accept that kind of help after 170 days of discord over the state budget.  Small groups of legislators are meeting throughout today to bargain over details in the state budget plan. All 100 members of the House have been told to return to Des Moines on Monday to give final legislative approval to budget bills.