Finance managers in the Iowa House and Senate say it is costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for the legislature to remain in session past its April 17th adjournment date.
Those costs are expected to rise as the session may continue well into next week, even once House and Senate GOP negotiators reach agreement on taxes and budgets.
Chief House Clerk Carmine Boal explains that lawmakers’ expense accounts expired on April 17th, the scheduled 100th day of the session, so they are no longer being paid per diem.
However, they are still paid transportation costs for one round-trip from home per week.
“There is that cost that continues even though they're past the deadline,” Boal said.
Also, hours are adding up for part-time staff.
“We have some session only staff who wouldn’t be here if we were done,” Boal said. “We’re down to the barebones minimum we have to have to make sure the bills are where they need to be, amendments are printed, all those types of things.”
Additional printing costs include any new bills that are filed, and a daily journal.
That brings the total estimated daily cost for both chambers to remain in session to $10,550.
The top Democrat in the Iowa House was quick to lay the blame with the GOP majority.
“Every day the Republican gridlock at the State Capitol continues, it costs Iowa taxpayers more and more,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown. “From deficits to budget cuts, Republicans have mismanaged the state budget and the overtime session is just another example of their fiscal irresponsibility.”
Senate President Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) said talks among Republicans have been productive, even though they are holding up adjournment.
“Obviously we wish we would have done some of this last week or the week before,” Whitver said.
But after another day without resolution, some frustration boiled over into anger during what are known as "points of personal privilege" on the Senate floor at the end of the day on Tuesday.
"The taxpayers are paying," said Sen. Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids). "Get the budget done and walk away from other stuff and get this session done."
“Iowans expect us to address their priorities and complete our work,” Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer added, also in a statement. “That’s what we will do.”