The top two leaders in the Iowa legislature aren’t shutting the door on the idea of reconvening the legislature if a deal can be reached on property tax reform. However, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs did joke about it with reporters this afternoon.
“We finished session 48 hours ago,” Paulsen said, with a laugh, and Gronstal added: “Yeah, it’s a little early to talk about a special session.”
But about 16 hours after the leglslature adjourned on Wednesday evening, Republican Governor Terry Branstad indicated he would be willing to call legislators back for a “special session” if Senate Democrats agree to pass a bill that’s nearly identical to what House Republicans crafted. Gronstal’s willing to continue negotiations.
“We are completely open to working with the governor,” Gronstal said this afternoon. “And I’m happy to meet with the governor.”
Paulsen said there is a “gap” between the two parties, but he’s not going to declare an end to negotiations either.
“We’re a ‘glass half full people,'” Paulsen said. “…This is something that’d be good for Iowans and good for Iowa’s economy and we’ll cotinue to see if we can bridge that gap.”
However, Gronstal said it appears to him Governor Branstad has already moved on.
“From my perspective, the governor started the campaign three or four days before the end of the session,” Gronstal said. ” As I was in offices with his people, talking about what we might do on property taxes, he was on the campaign trail criticizing everything the Senate had talked about, so I think…in the end he decided he’d prefer the issue over actually getting something accomplished.”
Paulsen said it’s “very clear” the two sides struggled to reach an agreement.
“There were three big issues that we walked into: education reform, mental health reform, property tax reform. I think probably, arguably, the most important to all of us — at least for Republicans — was reforming the property tax system and providing some relief there,” Paulsen says. “We didn’t quite get over that threshold. We’re still going to keep working on that. I don’t know quite what that means, but we did get some substantive education reform done, some substantive mental health reform — still more to do in both those areas.”
The two legislative leaders made their comments during taping of a joint appearance on the “Iowa Press” program which airs tonight at 7:30 on Iowa Public Television.