The Iowa legislature’s march toward adjournment has ended, with compromises falling into place on spending and policy issues.
The House and Senate have agreed to continue state funding for Planned Parenthood clinics — something Democrats wanted — and double the state tax credit for adoptions. That was something Republicans wanted. Another last minute compromise was worked out on salaries for Department of Transportation employees. A nearly ten million dollar request from the DOT was cut in half. House Republicans questioned why the DOT was asking for more money after last year’s ten cent per gallon gas tax increase.
“The gas tax was sold on the idea that money was supposed to be used for roads and bridges and even though I think it is…I don’t think the timing was good, number one, and I think it was a little bit arrogant to ask for that kind of money,” says Representative Dan Huseman, a Republican from Aurelia who’s co-chair of the panel that struck the final deal on that piece of the state budget.
As things wound down, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal thanked his colleagues.
“Your cooperation has helped make it possible to adjourn in the month of April, which is better than it’s been for a few years,” Grosntal said at about 6 pm.
Democrats have been in control of the Senate’s debate agenda for several years and Republicans hold a majority of seats in the Iowa House. Because of that, the legislature’s partisan squabbles have led to stalemates that lasted into June.
Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake said the 2016 legislature produced a sound budget and good tax policy, and made “strategic investments.” Legislators struggled to reach conclusion for the past couple of weeks. Upmeyer said an orderly ending early Friday evening was her preference.
“Iowans deserve to be able to see what we’re doing and when we do this late at night when people aren’t paying attention and we’re not doing our best work, that’s not the way we want to shut down,” Upmeyer said.
The Iowa Senate adjourned at 6:10 p.m. The House followed, concluding for the year at 6:18 p.m.
Check back for more stories about the issues legislators addressed — and tabled — during the 2016 session.