The Iowa legislature’s Monday-through-Thursday work week is drawing to a close without action on education reform. It’s the number one issue on Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s check-list for legislators.
“I know there’s behind-the-scenes discussions going on,” Branstad says. “I’m still hopeful this can get accomplished.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says key decision-makers have had “helpful” discussions this week.
“People are exploring their differences and looking for ways to accommodate each other,” Gronstal says.
Legislators on the 10-member committee appointed to strike a deal made offers and counter-offers in public last week, but the group hasn’t even met this week. The governor isn’t discouraged.
“I think the differences are becoming smaller and consequently I think there’s reason to be optimistic it can be resolved in the very near future,” Branstad says.
Senator Gronstal met privately with the top Republican in the House to talk through the issues.
“It might be easier to find a solution if we knew what the goal was and at times it’s not clear from the policy what the goal is,” Gronstal says, “so I think people are exploring their differences and working through them.”
Governor Branstad isn’t expecting resolution on education reform and other key issues, like property tax relief, anytime soon, however.
“I honestly believe it can be done in the month of May,” Branstad says. “But it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get it done.”
The daily expense money legislators are paid runs out May 3rd, but Senator Gronstal says that’s irrelevant.
“Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t have an official end date,” Gronstal says. “…Our job is to stay here until the job gets done.”
The Iowa legislature adjourned its 2011 session on June 30. Last year legislators wrapped up on Wednesday, May 9.