Gov. Terry Branstad is not inclined to call the Iowa Legislature into special session to deal with the potential impact of a partial federal government shutdown.
“The last thing we need to do is bring back the Legislature back to wait on Congress,” Branstad said Monday. Besides, he added, “it’s expensive to call the Legislature back.”
Although some Iowa Workforce Development and Department of Public Safety staff members have been furloughed because their jobs are affected by the lack of federal funds, Branstad said the state has been able to minimize the impact.
“No, I don’t think we’re going to run out of money in state agencies,” he replied to a question during his weekly news conference at the Capitol.
Over the weekend, Branstad pointed out, he heard that the Gold Star museum at Camp Dodge would be closed, but the state came up with a plan to keep it open.
He was critical of federal actions that resulted in “stupid things like closing the World War II memorial or the Gold Star Museum.”
“It seems to me the federal government trying to make things worse and more inconvenient,” Branstad said.
The state can’t wait indefinitely for Congress and the president to resolve the standoff, but presently there is no need to all lawmakers into special session, as suggested by a Democratic hopeful for the governor’s job.
Former legislator Bob Krause called for a special session to “anticipate and deal with” the impact the partial federal government shutdown will have on the state.
“We need to know exactly where we are at economically because of the shutdown,” said Krause, a former transportation planner who now works for a defense contractor. He has formed an exploratory campaign for governor.
Iowa needs to make an emergency appropriation to food banks and soup kitchens, Krause said. Their resources are stretched thin now and as more families feel the impact of the shutdown on lunch programs offered through schools and Head Start, the demand on food bank will increase, Krause said.
However, Branstad thinks “the last thing we need to do is bring back the Legislature back to wait on Congress.”
Instead, he and state officials will continue to monitor the situation “to determine what is in the best interest of the people of Iowa and I don’t think it’s a special session.”
Without blaming any party in the Washington stalemate, Branstad said compromise is a part of governing. He proposed a “focused” legislative agenda earlier this year, but had to negotiate – and compromise – with Senate Democrats and House Republicans.
The result, he said, was the biggest property tax cut in Iowa history, major K-12 education reforms and a health and wellness program that will “improve people’s health, not just have more people covered.”
He and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have felt the impact of the federal shutdown in their personal lives. The Branstad family had to move its annual chili feed to an in-law’s house because Cottonwood Recreation Area in Polk County, which is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, was closed.
Reynolds’ husband, a district soil conservationist with the National Resources Conservation Service, has been furloughed since Oct. 1.