Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate will return to the negotiating table at the capitol Monday, hoping to find agreement within their party on tax cuts that will clear the way for adjournment of this year’s legislative session.
A Senate bill cuts taxes more than the governor and the Republican-controlled House are recommending. Work on the more than $7 billion state budget can’t get underway in earnest until the tax issues are resolved.
Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver thinks a resolution on taxes and targets for the budget can be completed this week.
“That’s the hope,” Whitver told reporters on Thursday.
One House Republican downplayed the conflict between House and Senate Republicans over how much to cut taxes.
“You could say people are digging in their heels,” said Rep. Walt Rogers (D-Cedar Falls). “I would just say people are firm in what they believe and we're trying to come up with a compromise.”
In addition to taxes, Republicans in the two chambers also disagree on some key policy bills. A bill to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected passed the Senate but has not been taken up by the full House. And Senate Republicans have taken up a school voucher bill that was rejected by the House Education committee.
But Whitver also downplayed the differences between the two chambers.
“Any time you have 80-some legislators in the Republican Party there's going to be differences,” Whitver said. “We're looking forward to getting a good tax bill passed, wrapping up policy, and adjourning.”
It generally takes about two weeks to move the paper through the process, once agreement is reached on the budget. Whitver said he would “work day and night” to adjourn by the end of the month.
He said approving a tax cut bill will help bring the GOP’s ambitious two-year agenda to a close.
“We've had one of the most historic and productive sessions this state has ever seen,” Whitver said. “And if we can cap it off with a tax bill I'd put this session up against any session in the history of the state, possibly any session across the country.”