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May 19, 2011
Traer Star-Clipper

Legislative Costs and 2-Year Budgets

Governor Branstad was elected by an overwhelming majority of Iowans last year. He is sticking to a key component of his campaign, a two-year state budget. Many "experts" point out both pros and cons to a 2-year process and they are neither strongly for, or against it. Yet, Senator Gronstal and his followers are determined to oppose it. They say Branstad is making it all about power. Hmm, sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

The legislature doesn't receive reimbursement for expenses when session goes past their deadline, but what about costs to tax payers that could have been avoided if they had finished early?

Here's comments from Senator Kent Sorenson in early April! "While sitting at my desk in the Iowa Senate, I find myself wishing, for lack of something better to do, for some wet paint to be on one of the walls here in the chamber so that I could watch it dry. . . It's such a waste . . . Fifty Senators and their clerks ALONE have a daily cost of roughly $21,000. . . multiply it by 2 for the House of Representatives. It seems Iowa taxpayers are footing a bill of roughly $63,000 a day. This doesn't include: 1)The LSA that helps draft legislation, bills and amendments, 2)Caucus staff and Pages, 3)Secretary of the Senate and House and administrative staff, 4) Cafeteria staff 5) Building maintenance staff . . . and the list goes on! I don't have the exact numbers, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if we spend over $200,000 a day at the Capitol."

As the Senate holds the legislature in a stalemate, they may well be making the best argument FOR a 2-year budget process. If they could only have the budget battle every other year (with adjustments made in the off years), consider the possible savings to tax payers and the important issues that could be addressed in a timely matter!

Jane Jech



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