The unexpected winter storm did not hinder the good work being accomplished in the Legislature this week.
On Wednesday, we laid out our proposed budget targets, which provide the framework for the state’s general budget as we move forward in the budget process. Our proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget is balanced, sustainable, and meets the priorities of Iowans.
Throughout the process of identifying these targets, we remained committed to our core principles for crafting an efficient and effective budget:
- We will not spend more money than the state takes in;
- We will not use one-time funds for ongoing expenses;
- We will not intentionally underfund our commitments simply to fix the problem down the road; and
- We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
With a modest growth of three percent, under our proposal, the state will spend just 98 percent of ongoing revenue, and less than 90 percent of available revenue for Fiscal Year 2014. This plan will provide the state with an ending balance of $840.7 million at the end of the fiscal year.
In contrast, the Majority party in the Senate has offered a budget that increases spending by nearly 11 percent- a double-digit increase. Their proposal spends $301.7 million more than what the state takes in, or from a different perspective, $1.05 for every dollar of state revenue. This type of overspending is unsustainable and certainly not a path Iowans would expect their elected officials to go down. It is a return to the poor budgeting practices of the previous administration, which left us with a $900 million spending gap. Iowans do not handle their household budgets in this way, and it is not how the state should either.
We have set forth a budget that is responsible and ensures that the priorities of Iowans are properly funded. We protect services in the area of education including providing the funding necessary to allow our public universities to freeze tuition, $10 million to our community colleges, and a two percent increase in supplemental state aid for our local schools. We also commit to ensuring our health and human services and public safety services are effectively funded, while fully funding property tax credits and the commitment we made to mental health equalization funding.
Because a great deal of economic uncertainty remains on a number of fronts, whether regarding federal funding, the economic growth rate, or the impact of the drought in Iowa, it is important now more than ever, to pass a responsible budget that instills confidence in all Iowans.
This proposal is also wise because it promotes job creation throughout the state. We know the best way to help businesses thrive in our state is to keep government spending under control and provide certainty. Iowa job creators can rest assured that tax increases will not be on the horizon due to overspending in Des Moines.
We will continue to stick to our core principles outlined above throughout the budget negotiations. As the process moves forward, I look forward to working with all members of the House, Senate, and Governor to finalize a budget that is in the best interest of Iowans.
On a different note, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize all of our hard-working students back home. Congratulations to our student athletes on wrapping up impressive basketball and wrestling seasons. The dedication and commitment you demonstrate to your sport never ceases to amaze me. I also want to show my appreciation for our students involved in FFA. The skills and knowledge you have acquired through your involvement in this organization will prove to be invaluable. I’ve enjoyed following the extracurricular and academic accomplishments of all of our young men and women in the newspapers. You are all great representatives of your schools. Keep up the good work and thank you for all you do for our communities.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you! Please feel free to contact me anytime with the issues that are important to you at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-281-4618.