There’s a partisan divide at the statehouse — over math.
Republicans and Democrats in the legislature cannot agree on how much state tax money there is to spend.
Republican Representative Pat Grassley of New Hartford is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. It’s the panel responsible for drafting a state budget plan. He gave reporters a sheet of paper with 15 different numbers on it this morning, then delivered his bottom line.
“So you add all of those up,” Grassley told reporters. “It’s $7.477 billion. That’s what total funds are available.”
The Democratic leaders in the Iowa Senate scoffed.
“It’s a made up number,” both Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Senate President Pam Jochum told reporters an hour later.
Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, said Democrats are following the 1992 law Governor Branstad signed. It limits spending to 99 percent of available revenue. Gronstal accused Republicans of following their own set of “rules” to come up with a different calculation.
“And we disagree with them on that,” Gronstal said. “As a matter of fact, the governor disagrees with them on that.”
Last month Republican Governor Branstad’s staff did the math. Their calculation is $42 million higher than the sum Republicans in the House came up with. Representative Grassley is focusing his argument over math on Senate Democrats, though. Grassley said he “wouldn’t want to associate” with the budget outline Democrats have drafted.
“When I’ve asked questions on their budget, to get details, I’m unable to be given an answer,” Grassley told reporters.
The senate’s Democratic leader is equally dismissive.
“And we’re not quite sure where their numbers come from either,” Gronstal said during a news conference.
This disagreement over math has to be resolved before legislators can fulfill their primary responsibility — writing a state budget.