A southeast Iowa lawmaker says the state needs to put more money into economic development efforts.
The Iowa House has passed the Economic Development Budget bill.
The legislation not only funds statewide economic development efforts, but also agencies like the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Board of Regents, and the Iowa Finance Authority.
State Representative Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) voted against the bill.
He says he could not support the Republican plan to provide $29-million dollars to a long list of agencies when the current budget includes $36-million for the same group.
“The Governor (Terry Branstad) is from their party” says Rep. Kearns, “and he has come out with this new economic development plan which will require some real money, like $25-million in this budget just to get started and they did not add that (into the bill).”
State Senator Gene Fraise (D-Lee County) says his caucus will push to add more money to the legislation.
Sen. Fraise says he would not be surprised if Governor Branstad works behind the scenes to help in that process.
Meanwhile, Rep. Kearns says it was procedure that led to the walk-out at the Capitol in Des Moines.
He says he and 39 other House Democrats simply held an “off-site” meeting for about four hours on February 29.
Rep. Kearns says his caucus did not leave because of the two pieces of gun-related legislation up for debate that day.
“What it was really about was the position that the leader of the majority (Republican) party put us in when (the leadership) said they would tell us what bills will be debated,” says Rep. Kearns, “and then all at once it came up that we were going to debate these (gun bills).”
Rep. Kearns says such a short turn-around affects the ability to file amendments to bills.
He says the “off-site” meeting could have been avoided had Republicans reached out to Democrats one day prior.
Kearns does not believe the walk-out will hamper future negotiations in the Iowa House.