Speaker Upmeyer’s Weekly Newsletter

UTGD

Fiscal New Year

Happy 240th birthday to the greatest country on earth, the United States of America!  I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Independence Day filled with family and friends.  It was great to see and talk with so many Iowans during the Clear Lake parade.

I also want to say thank you to the men and women of our armed forces who keep us safe every day and defend or freedom and independence.  We all owe you a great debt of gratitude.

On July 1, the state entered a new fiscal year (FY17) which starts a new budget.  The state budget is different than a normal calendar year, with a budget year beginning July 1, and ending June 30 the following year.

For the last six years, the legislature has followed through on our commitments thanks in part to House Republicans’ four common sense budgeting principles.  These are the same principles that Iowa families and businesses use every day when they make their own budget decisions.

The House Republican budget principles are:

  1. We will spend less than the state collects
  2. We will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs;
  3. We will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and
  4. We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.

It’s difficult to estimate what the state’s economy will look like 18 months in advance, so it’s best that we build our budgets in a conservative manner.

During the 2015 session, the legislature approved an FY16 budget totaling $7.174 billion that covers various functions of state government like K-12 education, Medicaid, public safety, and courts.  Based on revenue estimates at the time, this budget abided by all four of our principles of living within our means.

During this past session, we didn’t waver on our budgeting principles.  We knew that the FY17 budget would be tight because of increased costs related to Medicaid, education reform, and property tax reform, among other things.  Rather than viewing this as a negative, we used this situation as an opportunity to look deep into the budget to find effectiveness and efficiencies within each budget area.

One budget that rarely receives any scrutiny is the Standing Appropriations, consisting of various programs across state government.  This year, Rep. Ken Rizer, Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, spearheaded a bipartisan effort to review each line item and evaluate the effectiveness of each of the programs in Standings.  In the end, we were able to move millions of dollars back into more appropriate budgets where each item will receive a more thorough review each year.

The FY17 budget spends slightly less than $7.351 billion with revenue projected to total $7.38 billion.  This year’s budget makes investments in the priorities of Iowans’ like education, healthcare, and public safety.  In the FY17 budget, K-12 education received the largest funding increase of any area of government, receiving an additional $135 million out of $177 million in new revenue.

When Republicans regained the majority in the Iowa House in 2010, we committed to ending the reckless spending practices of Governor Culver and legislative Democrats.  Irresponsible budgeting led to broken promises and culminated with the disastrous 10% across-the-board cut that impacted services that Iowans count on like schools, healthcare, and public safety.

Our budgeting principles have helped restore fiscal discipline to the state budget.  This has allowed us to continuing making investments into the things that Iowans value most and continue following through on those commitments.

As always, please keep in touch.  I look forward to traveling the district and much of the state continuing to visit with Iowans over the coming months.  If you would like to touch base in the meantime, you can reach me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-3521.

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