UPDATE: SENATE DEMOCRATS WILL OK ONE-YEAR IOWA BUDGET DESPITE BRANSTAD VETO PLEDGE
10:49 AM, Apr 4, 2011 | by William Petroski |
A leading Iowa lawmaker said today that Senate Democrats will approve one-year state budget package, despite Gov. Terry Branstad’s vow to veto anything that isn’t a two-year spending plan.
Sen. Robert Dvorsky, D-Coralville, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the Iowa Legislature hasn’t approved a two-year state budget since 1983 and he doesn’t see any reason to make changes now.
His stance sets up a possible deadlock between Democrats who control the Iowa Senate and the GOP governor, although Dvorsky said he doesn’t expect the clash will lead to a shutdown of state government.
“I think the process will be we will end up with a bill that we will send down that is a one-year budget. We will see if the governor actually vetoes it or not,” Dvorsky said.
Dvorsky responded to comments Branstad made Saturday night at a Republican fundraising event in which the GOP governor insisted that a one-year budget package wasn’t acceptable.
“I’ll veto it and I’ll veto it and I’ll veto it until we get a two-year budget,” Branstad said.
Dvorsky, an interview today, described Branstad’s stance as a political maneuver and a way to cut back on the budget. “If you want to do that, just do it through the process. Don’t do it with a two-year budget,” he said.
A two-year budget would provide less flexibility for state policy makers because it would require planning 36 months in advance, Dvorsky added.
Asked how far Democrats would be willing to go if Branstad carries out his veto threat, Dvorsky said,”Well, I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it.”
But he doesn’t expect a shutdown of state government, Dvorsky said.
“I think it isn’t that big of an issue to most people out there. We shouldn’t be focusing on this issue. We should be focusingon getting some money for K through 12, and the community colleges and the regents and all these other things, and making sure we pass a supplemental spending bill so we can make sure that we don’t lay off correctional officers and others. That is what we need to be doing and maybe not spending so much time on this.”
Later Monday, Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, was vague when asked about Branstad’s comments. “We will have a response on that front,” he said, declining to elaborate.
Rep. Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale and Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said he doesn’t believe the two-year budget disagreement between the House and Senate is setting the legislature up for gridlock.
Raecker said that despite approving a two-year budget, legislators would make adjustments in upcoming legislative sessions based upon revenue and other factors. The second year can work as a guide to better direct where the state’s budget is headed, he said.
“House Republicans are just responding to the governor’s comments that he’s going to insist on a two-year budget and veto anything that’s other than that,” Raecker said. “That’s why we’re proposing a two-year budget. It’s not our idea but we’re trying to respond to the governor’s insistence that that’s what he wants.”
Dvorsky issued a statement earlier Monday in which he asked why Branstad was willing to “massively disrupt Iowa’s economy to force passage of a two-year starvation budget for local schools.” He said the governor and legislative Republicans are insisting there be no increase in basic state aid to local schools.
” This has never happened since the school aid formula was created 40 years ago,” Dvorsky said.
Dvorsky said Branstad made his comments at a fundraising event before “some of the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.”
“Rather than pander to presidential hopefuls, Governor Branstad should return to reality—the reality shared by the vast majority of Iowa’s working parents. The Governor should work with local school board officials, superintendents, parents and teachers to find a bi-partisan solution,” Dvorsky said.
The Democratic lawmaker added, “Given the overreaching power grabs by Republican governors in other states, perhaps Governor Branstad is trying to create a crisis in order to impose an extreme budget, one that would fire thousands of teachers, school workers, prison guards and other public employees.”
Staff Writer Jason Clayworth contributed to this report.