Iowa legislative leaders have tentative agreement on budget, more details to come next week

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Legislative leaders announced a tentative budget agreement Friday that could enable them to adjourn by next week.

Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said they had reached an understanding. They declined to provide details on the overall spending level or on individual items, such as education, saying that information would be released next week.

"In the end we chose compromise over gridlock," said Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, who later added: "What we accomplished was a framework for finishing up the budget this year."

Gronstal said he expected that the Legislature could adjourn next week.

The leaders in the politically divided Legislature reached the terms after roughly five hours of negotiations Friday. Their daily expense payments ran out May 1, but they cannot adjourn until reaching a budget agreement for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

With the Senate Democrats proposing an overall general fund budget of about $7.34 billion and House Republicans seeking to spend $7.17 billion, the difference was not large. But compromise proved to be a challenge, as the two sides grappled over how much to spend on education and health care, and whether to use some of the state's surplus fund dollars.

Paulsen, of Hiawatha, said they had agreed to some one-time spending using surplus funds as part of the compromise plan.

"We found a way to balance ongoing revenue with ongoing expenses and meet the priorities of Iowans. I think it's a great thing for this building and a great thing for Iowans," said Paulsen.

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