Weekend open thread: Post-election fallout

What’s on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers?

The Iowa House will probably have a 60-40 Republican majority unless provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots change the unofficial results reported so far. The two races most likely to flip are House district 18, where Democratic incumbent Andrew Wenthe leads by 28 votes, and House district 48, where Democratic incumbent Donovan Olson trails by 26 votes.

A 26-24 Democratic majority appears to be the most likely outcome in the Iowa Senate. Democrat Tod Bowman has expanded his lead to 73 votes in the open Senate district 13. Republican Mark Chelgren has a 13-vote lead over incumbent Keith Kreiman in Senate district 47. If absentee and provisional ballots allow Kreiman to overcome that deficit, the Democrats would have a 27-23 majority in the upper chamber.

Incoming Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen is acting like he believes his own propaganda about the state’s dire financial condition. This week he asked Governor Chet Culver to tell his department directors “to freeze all discretionary spending.” Paulsen claimed that step is needed “to align ongoing expenditures with ongoing revenue,” even though revenues have been coming in ahead of projections since fiscal year 2011 began. Culver’s budget director in effect told Paulsen he was full of it. Excerpt:

As you know, the current FY 2011 General Fund budget is balanced and, as Governor Culver’s Administration announced last week, the projected ending balance or surplus will be higher than originally projected. Since the end of the 2011 legislative session, we have continued to replenish the State’s Reserve Funds because we closed the books on the FY 2010 General Fund budget with a $335.6 million ending balance, also higher than originally projected. […]

As you know, discretionary spending is a very small part of the General Fund budget, and the aforementioned controls apply to discretionary spending. Governor Culver does not have the authority to freeze appropriations for programs unless there is a deficit, and there is no deficit projected for FY 2011.

Newly re-elected Representative Tom Latham showed how gullible and uninformed he is on Friday by repeating the latest foam-at-the-mouth talking point about President Obama. Naturally, there’s no truth to the rumor that the president’s visit to India is costing $200 million a day. The real cost is probably about 100 times lower than the lie right-wing media have been spreading. Latham is old enough to know better, as my father would say.

It’s never too early to start the next election season in Iowa. Some Republican county party chairs talked with Bret Hayworth about their favorite presidential prospects.

The Des Moines Register reported a strange story: Polk County prosecutors are trying to permanently ban two anti-war protesters from the Federal Building in Des Moines. They are Christine Gaunt and Elton Davis (a member of the Bleeding Heartland community), who are to be sentenced on November 12 for trespassing at that building in August. I have never heard of a citizen being permanently banned from a federal building and wonder if there is any precedent for the judge to grant that request.

This is an open thread.

NOVEMBER 11 UPDATE: In the comments, Elton Davis says Polk County Attorney John Sarcone has withdrawn the unusual sentencing request, since apparently neither Senator Chuck Grassley nor Senator Tom Harkin supported it.

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