HEADLINES : Iowa
Spending bill logjam breaks in Iowa Legislature
Iowa lawmakers shifted into high gear on Monday, passing several budget bills that as recently as Friday seemed stuck in legislative limbo.
In a flurry of committee and floor activity, the Republican-led House and Democrat-controlled Senate reached formal agreements on seven bills representing a broad swath of state-government spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Both chambers passed five of the bills, sending them to Gov. Terry Branstad's desk.
In all, the Legislature approved more than $1.67 billion in spending, in areas as diverse as higher education, prisons, economic development and agriculture. The total budget for the new year is expected to come in at $6.24 billion.
Still undone is the state's health and human services budget, a $1.6 billion package that includes funding for numerous health and social programs as well as Medicaid, the state health care program for the poor. Making the bill particularly controversial this year is the inclusion of abortion restrictions favored by Republicans but opposed by Democrats.