Mike Gronstal

Mike Gronstal (file photo)

Negotiators have struck a tentative deal on a state budget “framework” and all 150 legislators are scheduled to return to Des Moines sometime next week as the details are finalized. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs is the top-ranking Democrat in the legislature.

“In the end, we chose compromise over gridlock,” Gronstal said.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, said there’s “a fair amount” of details yet to work out, but after months of wrangling an overall spending level has been set for the state budgeting year that begins July 1.

“I think we’ve got a framework that honors the committment to Iowans about balancing the budget,” Paulsen said.

However, neither Paulsen nor Gronstal will share specifics with the public until they’ve briefed other legislators in private.

“The details we’ll release next week,” Paulsen said this evening.

The two top leaders plan to talk privately with rank-and-file legislators over the weekend and on Monday to reveal spending targets for each area of the state budget. Gronstal expects the 2015 legislative session to end sometime next week.

“We are satisfied that we got the best we could for the things we thought were important,” Gronstal said. “The voters gave us divided government. They put Democrats in control in the Senate, Republicans in control of the House and the governor’s office. We fought for and I think when you see the final numbers you will see that we had some success in making sure our priorities are invested in.”

Democrats had been arguing for almost twice as much new money for K-through-12 public schools than Republicans proposed in January.

“I feel that we got the best we could with the hand we were dealt,” Gronstal said. “I think there’s plenty of disappointment to go around, but we fought long and hard for what we thought was important and I think we, in the end, had some success.”

Gronstal and Paulsen, along with other key legislators, met for about five hours today and emerged early this evening to discuss the tentative deal with reporters. It appears Republicans have agreed to spend a bit more than they originally proposed, but not as much as Senate Democrats or Republican Governor Terry Branstad had suggested.