A special session

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Des Moines) laid out a scenario yesterday whereby a skeleton crew of top legislators would stick around Des Moines to figure out the "strings" on the federal stimulus package money that's headed Iowa's way. Once the details are hammered out, the entire General Assembly would reassemble in Des Moines to direct the spending of that federal money.  McCarthy indicated there are two scenarios under consideration:  a special session or a break in the regular session that's currently underway with most legislators leaving Des Moines, then returning later to ratify the details of a budget deal worked out by legislative leaders.

"We don't have the answers yet on what's called 'maintenance of effort' or the purse strings that are going to be required," McCarthy said, during an appearance on IPTV's "Iowa Press" on Friday.  "Now, I'm hopeful that the federal government moves very fast and in an efficient fashion and we get all this money soon and we can figure out how we can make our budget work for Iowans better.  My fear is that it's going to take longer to get that done because of the bureacracy in the federal government and that may make our budget challenge here in Iowa that much greater, because we have to wait to figure exactly what requirements are placed on all this money."

Governor Culver and his staff believe the state will be getting $1.9 billion from the federal stimulus package over a period of three years. 

Here's McCarthy on the two scenarios mentioned in the first paragraph: "I think a couple of things are possibilities.  One would be that rank-and-file legislators go home and leadership and appropriations members stay and work through this maze of federal rules that are going to be coming down to deal with all this money and then when there's a deal, bring (rank-and-file legislators) back.  That's one option.  The other option is to pass a fairly lean budget and then come back in special (session) and fill certain areas once we figure out the maze of all these federal rules, so that's another option."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.