On October 7 the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met and revised the estimate for FY 2010 and established the initial estimate for FY 2011. The REC lowered the general fund revenue estimate for FY 2010 by $415 million and, in response, the Governor ordered a 10 percent across the board cut.
The Governor claims that no one saw this downturn coming. However, House Republicans have said that Culver spent too much and cut too little, going as far back as 2007:
“In his speech, Culver claimed that he wanted his budget to abide by the following five principles: 1) Not spending more than we take in, 2) Keeping the reserves filled to 10 percent, 3) Not using smoke and mirrors to balance the budget, 4) Realizing that not all budget requests can be funded and that difficult and painful choices must be made and, 5) Never being satisfied with the condition of the state’s budget.
After all of the big talk, he went out and violated FOUR of the FIVE principles. He spends $175 million of FY 07 revenue in FY 08, he uses smoke and mirrors (funding property tax credits in the wrong fiscal year, funds Medicaid with one-time money), he gives anyone and everyone all the money they could ever ask for (as far as I can tell, Culver went out of his way to avoid making a difficult choice), and begins the process of undoing all of the hard work that was accomplished during the past few fiscal years.”
- Former House Republican Leader Christopher Rants, February 1, 2007
“Looking at the REC estimate is like looking at any stock portfolio, it has plummeted. This problem is not going to be solved by more of the same, rhetoric and falsehoods. It’s going to take tough leadership, tightening of the state’s fiscal belt and accountable government, which is what the House Republicans are offering to Iowans. Our fiscal house is not in order, we have gaping holes in the budget and no one except Republicans will stand up and say it.”
- Former House Republican Leader Christopher Rants, October 9, 2008
It wasn’t just House Republicans who were critical of the Governor’s budgets:
“Under Governor Culver’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposal ‘true total expenditures’ grow at the rate of almost 10 percent above Fiscal Year 2007 levels. Even with the proposed cigarette tax increase, the growth in spending outpaces the growth in revenues by a significant margin. The key to responsible budgeting is to keep expenditures in line with revenues.” Governor Culver has pledged, “Simply put, we can’t spend more than we take in.” Yet, even with the Governor’s proposed tax and revenue increases of almost $180 million, this budget proposal will result in spending nearly $300 million more than we take in. The proposed budget accomplishes this by shifting over $400 million of Fiscal Year 2008 General Fund costs to other funds and special accounts.”
- State Auditor David Vaudt, February 22, 2007
“Planned expenditure growth of 16 percent over a two-year period (FY 08 and FY 09) still outpaces anticipated ongoing revenue growth of 12 period over the same time period. Considering 80 percent f that two-year revenue growth comes from tax and fee increases, it’s obvious the trends in expenditure growth are unsustainable through economic growth alone. To spend at such a torrid pace, we must increase taxes and fees at a torrid pace. That, in turn, could adversely impact economic growth in our state.”
- State Auditor David Vaudt, February 12, 2008
The current leadership of the House Republicans continued to raise the alarm bells:
“The REC numbers released today should be no real surprise to Iowans. Over the past two years, Democrats have increased state spending by nearly $1 billion and now we’re seeing the results of that spending spree compounded by a weak economy.”
- House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen, March 20, 2009
“Democrats have spent too much, cut too little and have left Iowans with two budgets that are likely out of balance and a third budget that has $1 billion spending gap.”
- House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen, June 2, 2009
“When the 2009 books closed, the governor came up short so he raided our savings account to balance the checkbook. Not only is this kind of budgeting irresponsible, but it also puts Iowa’s economic future for fiscal year 2010 and 2011 in further turmoil.”
- House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen, September 29, 2009
The Governor’s mismanagement of the budget is the main reason why he is being forced to enact a large across the board cut. Had the Governor and Democrats taken House Republicans advice and not increased spending by $1 billion at a time when the economy was crashing, the problem would have been much less severe. In addition, had the Democrats approved selective cuts and program eliminations offered by House Republicans, the across the board cut would not have been necessary.