There are only a handful of legislators at the state capitol today, but key leaders say progress is being made behind the scenes.
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says the goal is to complete the 2013 legislative session soon.
“We’ve still got some work ahead of us, but we believe we can be done this week,” Paulsen says. “…The dominoes are going to start falling. Sometimes it ends up being a budget piece. Sometimes it ends up being a policy piece, but my expectation is you’re going to start seeing that exact thing happen here in short order.”
Governor Terry Branstad suggests private talks may soon yield a compromise on education reform as well as the outline of a deal to adjust the state’s property tax system.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. It would be wonderful if they could get it done in this week,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “We certainly want to see it completed in this month.”
Legislators could walk away from a variety of policy proposals, but their primary duty is to draft a state budget. Lawmakers haven’t yet agreed on how big the budget should be, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs has been in private meetings all day to discuss the budget and he gave this brief update to reporters early this afternoon: “Closer than last week.”
Last week’s estimate from a key Democrat indicated Republicans wanted to spend about $300 million less in the next state fiscal year than Democrats do. Legislators will not meet tomorrow, but both the House and Senate are scheduled to convene on Wednesday. Leaders indicate that’s when the “final push” will begin.