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Governor says no need for state legislators to reconvene to deal with federal shutdown

(Radio Iowa) – Governor Terry Branstad says there’s no need to call legislators back into special session to make new spending plans to deal with the loss of federal funds due to the federal government shutdown.

“That’s expensive to call the legislature back, especially in light of the fact that so far, I think the State of Iowa has handled the situation pretty well,” Branstad says.

Bob Krause, a Democrat who is exploring the idea of running for governor in 2014, says Branstad needs to call the  legislature back into session to approve “emergency” funding for food banks and soup kitchens across the state.  Branstad, a Republican who’s raising money to run for a sixth term as governor in 2014, says he and his staff have found ways to “minimize” the impact of the federal shutdown.

“I think the last thing we need to do is bring the legislature back (to Des Moines) to wait on the congress,” Branstad says. “I mean the congress is bad enough. We have a history in Iowa of getting things done and I think it’s best that we continue to monitor the situation and determine what is in the best interest of the people of Iowa and I don’t think a special session of the legislature is in the best interest of the people of Iowa at this time.”

About half of the state’s more than $12 billion dollar budget plan is financed with federal money, much of it for Medicaid and welfare benefits like food stamps.

“I don’t think we’re going to run out of money in state agencies,” Branstad says. “…When stupid things like closing the World War II Memorial or the Gold Star Museum happen, I think we’ve got to prevent that from happening.”

The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston was set to close because of the federal government shut down, but Branstad announced this morning state government would be covering costs so the museum can remain open. Branstad says state government doesn’t have the ability to deal with the loss of federal funds “indefinitely” however. According to Branstad, it is “critical” that the president and congress to “put the country back on track” before Thursday’s debt ceiling deadline.

“I think most people agree that defaulting on our debt is not a good thing and it should be resolved,” Branstad says. “And it’s the responsibility of the president and congress to resolve it and the sooner they do the better for everybody.”

However, Republican Congressman Steve King maintains this Thursday is not a default deadlinebecause the U.S. government could still pay the interest on its debt and put off paying down the principle. King accuses those who cite Thursday as a default date of trying to “inject a fear factor” into the shutdown debate in D.C.