This week, State Auditor David Vaudt released his review of the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget. Overall, he gave the Legislature high marks for restoring responsible budgeting practices, proclaiming “huge progress in the area of fiscal sustainability.” He declared that House Republicans have “turned the ship around” putting responsible spending back on the right track. He praised our work and said our budget is, “clearly a win for the taxpayers of Iowa.”
When Republicans took control of the House in January, we took input from Iowans and proposed a budget that was honest, transparent and sustainable. Our budget does not spend more than the state takes in and responsibly funds priority services like education, health and human services and public safety. Additionally, we provide significant tax relief through the creation of the Taxpayers Trust Fund, returning Iowans’ hard earned dollars to them, where it belongs.
The auditor also pointed out that our budget reduces the state’s reliance on one-time money. In the past, this money came in the form of federal stimulus dollars and had been used in significant amounts to fund ongoing expenses (primarily in the areas of education and health care). Not only is this type of practice a bad idea, it is irresponsible and sets the state up for failure in the future. Our budget, as reviewed by the auditor, reduces this one-time money by 92 percent – from $638 million to $53 million. A huge step in the right direction.
We also made significant progress on how much the state is spending. The last budget passed by Legislative Democrats spent $1.18 for every $1.00 the state was collecting. Iowans grew tired of this kind of reckless spending and sent Republicans to the capitol to get it under control. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Services Agency and under Iowa law, the Fiscal Year 2012 budget spends $0.97 of every $1.00 it brings in.
House Republicans focused on reducing the entire size of the state budget. And we did. When doing an apples to apples comparison the Fiscal Year 2012 budget spends almost $250 million less than Fiscal Year 2011, or a total just over $6 billion.
Fiscal sanity has been restored in Iowa.
The auditor did issue warnings about the potential for a loss of federal funds as Congress works to balance their budget. This is certainly a concern of House Republicans as well and we will continue to monitor the situation and respond in a fiscally responsible manner.
At the end of the day, House Republicans kept our promise to the taxpayers and passed a responsible, transparent and honest budget which puts taxpayers back at the table. We were able to make substantial progress this year and we will carry that forward and continue our efforts to rein in wasteful state spending while preserving priority services.