Lawmakers continue to spar on state budget - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lawmakers continue to spar on state budget


A house-approved $5.9 billion budget has made its way to the Senate.

It is unlikely to go any further as is.

The sparring continues as both sides try to find common ground regarding next year's state budget.

"Their attempt to put all these bills into one big 600 page omnibus bill, that's not in good faith," said Sam Roecker, communications director of the Iowa Democratic Party.

"It's now in the Senate's hands, and Senate Democrats have thus far refused to produce their own plan," said Tim Albrecht, spokesman for Governor Terry Branstad.

With just three weeks remaining in the current fiscal year, the deadlock between Senate Democrats and House Republicans is being pushed to the brink.

But the nonpartisan organization that focuses its attention on analyzing the state budget finds there is no need for major cuts to essential services.

"The state budget, the general fund budget is smaller now as a percentage of the Iowa economy than it was when Branstad was Governor the last time," said David Osterberg, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project.

Osterberg's organization believes negotiations would be more effective if they took place on the understanding that the budget picture is not as bleak as it's made out to be. 

"Until we start talking about the budget as it is, and not some sort of ideological notion that you always cut budgets because that's what you're supposed to do, you may get to a government shutdown," Osterberg said.

A shutdown, the organization reports, could mean thousands of non-essential state employees would be furloughed without pay, state parks could close, as well the temporary cessation of many state services.

Albrecht says plans are in place should an agreement not be reached by July 1, and that there would be no government shutdown.

 "The government will continue, the Governor has a broad authority in these types of situations."


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