Iowa legislature confident budget deal is near - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa legislature confident budget deal is near

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

The state budget stalemate continues.  But legislators are getting close to a deal and believe that we won't face a state government shutdown.

State legislators will be likely burn the midnight oil yet again Wednesday, as they work to pass a budget that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on.  Nearly every part of the budget has been decided between the House and Senate, there are just two sticking points left in the discussions.

Even though the Iowa General Assembly is in overtime, legislators believe the finish line is within sight.

"We believe we can get finished and have a budget that's balanced, meets the priorities of Iowans without raising taxes, and we can do it on time," said Democratic Senator Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls.

And that means legislators aren't seriously discussing a stop-gap budget right now.  A stop-gap would allow state services to continue in the short term if a long-range budget isn't approved by the assembly and signed by the governor by Friday.  But legislators and the governor agree that the state won't shut down even if that doesn't happen by the deadline.

"I know the governor has a plan and contingency to keep things going.  I don't know exactly what that is, but I entrust that they'll do what's right to take care of Iowans.  And hopefully that's just for a short period as we get things finalized around here," said Republican Representative Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls.

The only sticking points left in budgetary discussions in Des Moines are about Medicare funding for abortions and property tax reform.  On property taxes, the House and Senate differ on how to give commercial property owners tax breaks, without harming the revenue streams of local cities, counties, and school districts.  If the two sides can't agree, many legislators hope they can still call it quits for this session and address property taxes in the fall.

One of the other difficult discussions in the budget battles has been about school funding.  As of now, the budget bill includes zero percent allowable growth this coming school year, but a two percent increase in funds for next year.

The legislature is hoping to have the entire budget approved sometime Wednesday.  The budget will then go to Governor Terry Branstad's desk.  He has to sign off on the deal before it becomes official.

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