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House speaker says process working, but no deal yet on tax plan

DES MOINES — House Speaker Pat Grassley says the stalemate among Republicans over state tax policy is the way the legislative process should work.

“Iowans, if they thought we just came down here and we were in lockstep on every single issue through every step of the process, I don’t think they would think that was good government,” Grassley told reporters early Thursday evening.

Republicans in the Senate and Republican Governor Kim Reynolds have unified behind a plan to trigger another round of income tax cuts, get rid of the state inheritance tax and have the state take over paying for the mental health system. That last one would eliminate a property tax levee and it is the sticking point with House Republicans. Grassley said more time is needed to analyze the consequences of ending county oversight and having the state manage the mental health system.

“The way the process works here is we’re citizen legislators and so I feel we’re bringing a voice from all across the entire state,” Grassley said during an online news conference. “…It’s just the way this process works and I think Iowans would expect us to not agree on every single issue.”

Democrats on a House committee have given initial support to the House GOP’s stand against the state take-over of the mental health system. House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard of Charles City told reporters the concern is about follow through.

“I, as a practical matter, am all for shifting burden away from local property taxes,” Prichard said, “but then you’ve got to ask yourself: ‘Is the state under Republicans leadership to be counted on to support mental health funding that is needed across the state with the way that they like to budget?’”

It’s unclear how or when the impasse among Republicans will be resolved. House members debated a handful of budget bills last night, but Senate Republicans say they’re not interested in making any state spending decisions until this tax flap is settled.

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