Republican Lawmakers Gather to Discuss Budget

(PUBLISHED: A view from the balcony shows the Iowa Senate at work at the Capitol in Des Moines in this file photo. GOP leaders said Tuesday that the worsening budget crisis may leave no money for spending increases for schools in the 2003 fiscal year.) A view from the balcony that shows the Senate during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature on Monday, Jan. 14, 2002, at the Capitol in Des Moines.

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By James Steward

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republicans who hold a majority in the Iowa House have returned to the Statehouse for private meetings to plan their next step in a long-running budget dispute with Democrats.

GOP legislators and Gov. Terry Branstad say they are willing to compromise with Democrats but have ruled out spending more than $5.9 billion in the next fiscal year budget.

Democrats note that state will start the new fiscal year with roughly $1 billion in reserves and are pushing to increase spending on schools.

Democrats have criticized a Republican plan to roll all budget matters into one measure, calling it a Frankenstein bill. On Thursday as legislators met inside the Statehouse, two activists dressed as Frankenstein marched outside the building.

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