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BUDGET BILLS: Lawmakers Closer To Agreement

State lawmakers are on their second week of overtime.  They can’t leave until they work out their differences on several funding measures.  One of them is Education Appropriations.

“We’ve wasted a lot of time during session, there was the governor’s amount for education, there was the senate’s amount  for education, there was a the house amount for education,” Rep. Cindy Winckler (D) Davenport.

Winckler says finding common ground between all three proved to be a challenge, but it looks like the ten members of the Education Appropriations Conference Committee did it.

“Out of our 11 budgets, there are only three that have been agreed to, so we have a lot of processes like this,” says Winckler.

Lawmakers can cross Judicial, Transportation and Supplemental budgets off their list.  That leaves budgets for Agriculture, Economic Development, Justice and Health and Human Services.

“Those of us on conference committees,  we’ve been on standby or in the capitol,” says Rep. Joel Fry (R) Osceola.

Fry sits on the Health and Human Services Conference Committee.  Lawmakers are working with more than a billion dollars.

“We’re talking about a lot of money that goes to a lot of different directions, not just Medicaid, but many of the services vulnerable Iowans receive,” says Fry.

The committee will debate a controversial topic that ends to come up last-minute.

“We do have the conversation about state funded abortions or tax dollars going to abortions and that has yet to be debated it the conference committee,” says Fry.

The legislative session didn’t end Wednesday and likely won’t end Thursday either.

“I think we’re going to be further off than that,” says Winckler.

Property Tax, Medicaid and Education Reform all went to conference committees.  Once the details are worked out, the bills will go to the House and Senate for a final vote.

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