Republicans and Democrats at the statehouse have agreed on new parameters for next year’s state budget. Lawmakers plan to spend about $7.35 billion and this latest agreement sketches out how that will be divided among state agencies.
Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake met with reporters to mark the milestone.
“We were able to fund priorities,” Upmeyer said. “We perhaps, might put some money in different places but that’s the art of the compromise because this is what Iowans have selected, to have a Democrat Senate and a Republican House, so we’ll work it out.”
Upmeyer said with these decisions made, legislators who serve on budget subcommittees will begin making more detailed budget decisions today — deciding which state programs get cut, which get a “status quo” budget and which get a small spending boost. Upmeyer said the ultimate goal is to conclude the 2016 legislative session by April 19.
“I’m going to remain optimistic,” Upmeyer told reporters. “It’s absolutely possible to get done in two weeks, so that’s my goal.”
Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville who leads the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued a written statement. Dvorsky said Democrats and Republicans have found “common ground” to avoid state government “gridlock”.
Republican Governor Terry Branstad said no one gets everything they want, but he appreciates the “consensus” that’s developing.
“I think it’s the best we can do under the circumstances,” Branstad said.
Under the plan, the state’s economic development agency will get less money for the budgeting year that begins July 1. There’s some new money reserved in the budget for the three public universities and community colleges, but no word yet on how that will be divvied up among the institutions.