Iowa Legislative session ends with agreements on budget, spending bills
The health and human services budget bill has passed and both chambers have agreed to a temporary spending authority bill. The closing remarks have been made. The gavel has fallen.
The 2011 Legislative session is over.
It is the third longest session on record in Iowa history — lasting 172 days — and one that has been embroiled in turmoil between two different majority caucuses. With a Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate, disagreements often erupted over property taxes, abortion, budget issues and collective bargaining. Finger-pointing ensued and tempers flared. Government shut down was threatened on multiple occasions.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Des Moines) said the session was mired in “too much partisanship this year,” and that members of the opposing caucus “spent too much time focusing on divisive social issues – which brought Iowa to the brink of a government shutdown — instead of working to help the middle class.”
But as the clock ticked towards deadline, resolve came. Gridlocks broke. Conference committees hashed out opinions.
The House, in an overwhelming bi-partisan effort of 86-7, approved a temporary funding measure to allow government to remain open past July 1, while Gov. Terry Branstad reviews a series of budget bills passed by chambers in the last week. The Senate approved it unanimously.
House File 698 will providing funding to state agencies for operation starting July 1 and ending July 31 of this year.
Because of the measure, “Iowans won’t see a hiccup in their services,” House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) said.
There were casualties, including property tax reform, an adamant priority of Branstad’s. Paulsen expressed disappointment that reform was not achieved, but said it will continue to be a priority in the 2012 session.
“While this body was successful in enacting the largest property tax cut in the history of Iowa by once again fully funding the K-12 foundation formula and committing to 100% funding on all property tax credits in fiscal year ’13, it is not enough,” Paulsen said. “We continue to have some of the highest commercial property taxes in the nation. We will be back here to address this again next year.”
However, Republicans were victorious in getting Democrats to compromise on a two-year budget that both House and Senate Republican leaders have said will spend less than what the state takes in.
The Senate simply adjourned without remarks, though Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) said though a spokesman that the session is a “real beginning of a transformation progression for Iowa,” and as lawmakers ready themselves to enjoy the rest of summer, they should remember “our word does not end today. It is only just beginning and we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The House closed with a voice vote to adopt a sine die resolution to adjourn after remarks from the leaders and Paulsen.
Simply put, House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Garner) said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve had another good day.”