This week real progress was made at the State House. We’re continuing our work on the state budget and realizing positive movement in reaching a responsible budget agreement and final adjournment.

Two weeks ago the House passed House File 697, the Omnibus Appropriations Act. The legislation was critical in jumpstarting stalled budget negotiations. There is no question it has moved the process forward and worked to break the stalemate that overwhelmed the budget differences between the House and Senate. This week the full Senate convened and passed a series of budget bills.

Thursday four conference committees met, these committees are comprised of Republican and Democrat legislators from both the House and Senate. The various committees met on the Justice, Economic Development and Agriculture budgets as well as the Mental Health reorganization bill. By the end of the day, all four of the bills had been resolved.

As we move forward and reach agreement on these budgets, we continue to stand firm on our principles. House Republicans will not accept budgets that spend more than the state takes in — we’ve completely abolished the past practice of using one-time money for ongoing expenses.

Much of the negotiating that remains will center on our insistence that the Senate Democrat’s efforts to underfund Medicaid, mental health and nursing homes, in order to spend more money in other areas, is unacceptable. We are not doing our job if we leave the Capitol knowing we have underfunded such critical services.

We will continue to push forward and plan on resolving other budget bills over the weekend and into next week. We will complete our work and pass a budget that meets the needs of Iowans and brings fiscal responsibility back to state government.

One last thought…we’re all still keeping a watchful eye on our western border as the Missouri River threatens our communities. The response by local officials, state emergency workers, and volunteers has been tremendous. Please keep those who continue to battle the floods in your thoughts and prayers.