Budget Bills Begin to Move But Details Still Secret

On Monday, March 8, the House Appropriations Committee approved:

  • HSB 728 (Federal Block Grants),
  • HSB 733 (Economic Development budget bill),
  • HF 2502 (Pension bill) and
  • SF 2366 (the second FY 2010 supplemental appropriations bill).

On Tuesday, the Committee approved:

  • HSB 731 (Justice System budget bill),
  • HSB 732 (Judicial branch budget bill) and
  • HSB 733 (Ag and DNR budget bill).

These bills collectively appropriate $712 million for general fund expenditures. This is only 13 percent of the expected general fund appropriations for FY 2011.

The Committee is expected to debate the Health and Human Services budget bill and the Administration and Regulation budget bill on Thursday. Those two bills will appropriate roughly $1 billion Even when that is added to the total, it will mean the Committee has approved $1.7 billion, or just over 30 percent.

Unfortunately, the Democrats continue to refuse to allow Iowans to see the entire budget picture. While some details have come out – including under-funding K-12 education by $170 million, under-funding Medicaid by $200 million, and using $187 million from the Cash Reserve Fund for ongoing spending.

By not disclosing the full picture, the Democrats are depriving Iowans the opportunity to give legislators their opinions on what should be budget priorities. They are also hiding the amount of one-time money being used to balance the budget, which simply pushes off the problems until next year.

House Republicans will continue to demand that the Democrats be transparent with the budget process and explain to Iowans how they intend to close the $1.1 billion general fund spending gap.

House Republicans will continue to review the Democrats’ budget plan to if it does the following:

  • The budget does not spend more than the state takes in
  • Does not raise taxes, including property taxes
  • Proposes real government efficiency and reorganization

In addition, House Republicans will continue to offer budget savings ideas, including the $290 million in reductions offered on Senate File 2088, the State Government Reorganization bill.