83rd Iowa General Assembly Convenes Monday - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

83rd Iowa General Assembly Convenes Monday

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- State lawmakers are preparing for the first day of, what some are calling, the toughest legislative session in history. The 83rd Iowa General Assembly opens Monday morning in Des Moines.

Like last year, Monday will begin with routine pomp and circumstance, but that's where the similarities end. The hurdles facing state leaders this year are unlike any local lawmakers have ever tackled.

Representative Doris Kelley noted, "the most challenging thing is going to be this budget."

The democrat is referring to a budget shortfall which, she claims, will top $1 billion. A big number, when the state operates on $5 billion each year. Fellow democrat, Senator Bill Heckroth, believes the only option is overhauling the entire financial process.

He noted, "if we continue doing things the way we've always done them, we probably won't get much of a different result."

As you might expect, lawmakers have very different opinions on the best way to bring the state back in the black. Kelley believes one way to trim the budget, is to trim the government.

She said lawmakers need to "look at what is government's responsibility? What are our core principles? What should we be providing? We can't be everything for everybody."

Republican Representative Pat Grassley agreed something drastic needs to be done. But he is also concerned money matters will push other important bills off the table.

"We as representatives and senators need to be very... Keep our eyes wide open to all the issues, and not just completely be tunnel vision on the budget," said Grassley.

One issue many Iowans feel strongly about is same-sex marriage. You can expect to see protestors on both sides of the issue in Des Moines Monday. But lawmakers have said they likely won't have time to begin that debate this session.

Lawmakers have a limited amount of time to complete their agenda. They're cutting the session by twenty days to help save money. Which means less time for pomp...so they can deal with the harsh reality of their circumstances.

Heckroth added, "if we can make government more efficient, that pays dividends for year and years ahead."

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

 

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