Governor Terry Branstad delivered a mostly-positive review of the 2016 legislative session this morning during his weekly statehouse news conference.
Branstad praised legislators from both parties for making “tough decisions” on state spending and passing criminal sentencing reforms, but Branstad faulted Senate Democrats and their leader, Mike Gronstal, for failing to pass some sort of water quality initiative.
“The Senate leader just wasn’t willing to get serious about doing it this year, but we’re going to continue to work on it,” Branstad said. “I’m very optimistic that we’ll get it done next year.”
According to Gronstal, “too many people were talking past each another and doing things on their own” rather than discussing workable options.
“The governor had his plan that had essentially no collaboration. The House Republicans had their plan with no collaboration,” Gronstal said Friday evening. “I think it behooves us to bring people together after the election and say: What is it we’d like to accomplish? How is it we’d like to finance it? What are the measures of achievement we’re going to look at on anything we decide to do?”
Branstad today suggested this will be an issue in Gronstal’s bid for reelection this fall.
“He’s trying to blame somebody else for his unwillingness as the majority leader to debate an important issue. I think he’s going to have to be held accountable for that and it will be up to the voters to decide,” Branstad said. “But the fact is there was plenty of communications and we were talking with the Senate Democrats as well as members of the House throughout this whole process.”
The legislature sent Branstad a more than $7.3 billion state spending plan. The governor has the authority to veto items within each budget bill. Branstad told reporters this morning he and his staff will carefully review each bill, but he didn’t give any hints as to proposals or spending that might be vetoed.