By State Senator Paul McKinley
To use a baseball analogy, the 2011 legislative session (or stalemate!) has entered into “extra innings” and depending on your perspective, either the batters keep striking out or the pitchers are just too crafty.
As Monday begins week 18, the end, unfortunately, still looks to be out of reach.
There are numerous issues yet to be resolved and many questions left to be answered, such as:
Since Iowa will pass a two year budget, how big will it be and where will the money be spent?
What will Iowa’s comprehensive property tax relief legislation entail and how much help will be provided to job creators and property owners?
Will the Senate follow the lead of the House and pass legislation to further explore the expansion of clean base load energy generation and the good jobs that will come as a result?
What, if any, changes will be made to the delivery of mental health services in all 99 counties?
When will Senate Majority Leader Gronstal allow a bi-partisan vote on the banning of late-term abortions so his hometown of Council Bluffs does not become a haven for partial-birth abortions?
These questions and others will be addressed in the coming weeks but in order to illustrate some of the challenges ahead, consider two of these issues: the banning late-term abortions and the size of Iowa’s two year budget.
REPUBLICANS UNITED ON SPENDING LESS
Governor Branstad along with Senate and House Republicans are completely united in the fact that Iowa will spend less than $6 billion dollars.
We believe Iowans sent a strong message last November that the days of overspending and wayward budgeting of the past four years are over.
During the years when Governor Culver was in office and legislative Democrats had control of both chambers, Iowa saw the most spending in state history, some of the largest property tax hikes and one of the most destructive across-the-board cuts ever. Stability was rare.
Republicans campaigned on less spending and better budgeting and we are delivering. We will not spend more than $6 billion dollars and that equates to approximately 97 percent of on-going revenues.
Our budget proposals are significantly lower than that of the Democrats. Their proposals spend hundreds of millions of dollars more at a time when our nation faces an alarming debt crisis.
We will not spend more money than we take in and we will continue to work diligently to repair the fiscal damage that was created during the last four years under Governor Culver.
PROTECTING INNOCENT LIFE
Infamous abortion provider Dr. LeRoy Carhart has threatened for months to move to Iowa and open up a late-term abortion clinic in Council Bluffs, the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.
Many weeks ago, the Iowa House overwhelming passed legislation with bi-partisan support to ban late-term abortions (abortions in the 3rd trimester) and keep this renowned abortion provider out of southwest Iowa.
Since that time, this important legislation has languished in the Senate Government Oversight Committee until earlier this week when all 24 Senate Republicans, with the help of two Senate Democrats, signed a withdrawal petition to bring that bill out of committee and onto the Senate calendar for possible debate.
Unfortunately, since the Senate Majority Leader has complete authority over which bills are debated and which ones are not, Gronstal has thus far refused to schedule debate on this important issue.
His refusal comes even after he was quoted just days ago in his hometown paper as saying he will not stand in the way of a debate. In fact, his own mayor (of his own party) and thousands of his constituents back home have made it clear that they do not want Council Bluffs to become “The Late-term Abortion Capital of the Midwest.”
If Gronstal allows a debate, it will pass the Senate with bi-partisan support and Governor Branstad has indicated he will sign it.
It’s time for Senator Gronstal to make good on his promise.
Like these two important issues prove, there are many questions but bi-partisan answers certainly do exist.
Senate Republicans are and have been ready to help bring this session to a close in a productive manner, but it is time for Senator Gronstal and his followers to quit stalling when it comes to the important issues facing Iowa.
Iowans want less spending, lower taxes, more private sector jobs, better education and more freedoms and liberties.
It would be a shame for this unnecessary stalemate to linger onward and for progress on these fundamental ideals to continue to be held up.
Iowans want progress and opportunity and Senate Republicans, if given the chance, are ready to deliver.
State Senator Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) is the Iowa Senate Minority Leader.