Wait, Didn’t We Already Do That? Welcome to 2009

House Republicans have been pushing since early 2009 for cutting spending in the state budget. Over the past two sessions of the Legislature, House Republicans have sponsored amendments to budget bills to reduce spending by a total of $600 million.

But when those ideas were brought forward before the legislature they were all voted down. Now, three weeks before the election, they suddenly seem like a good idea?

Two articles in the Des Moines Register this week called attention to two of those savings ideas.

  1. Gov. Culver signed an Executive Order yesterday that would consolidate state computer systems. House Republicans offered that amendment on the House floor and it was voted down by House Democrats on April 7, 2009. It wasn’t a good idea then, but it is now?
  2. Second, the Register wrote an editorial piece on Tuesday saying that public employees should contribute to their health insurance premiums. Once again, House Republicans agree. Which is why we offered an amendment in 2009 to require state employees to pay a monthly fee for their health insurance. It would save the state upwards of $14 million per year. It too was voted down by House Democrats on April 25, 2009.

Here are the details on those two amendments:

Issue: Consolidation of Information Technology Systems and email systems at DAS

Explanation: H-1424 to HF 809 by Wagner requires the consolidation of information technology systems and email systems within the Department of Administrative Services (DAS). The DAS information technology officer told the committee this would save “tens of millions” of dollars.

Vote and Details: 4/7/09, HJ Page 1227

Issue: Requiring state employees to pay a small health insurance premium

Explanation: H-1735 to SF 478 by Raecker required the Governor to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement to implement a health insurance premium of $50 per month per employee. The logic behind this amendment is that parents on HAWK-I have to pay up to $20 per month in premiums while most state employees pay nothing. This would save the state $14.3 million in general fund expenditures in FY 2010.

Vote and Details: 4/25/09, HJ Page 2070

Here is a full list of ideas that were offered during the 2009 session:

  • Eliminate “phantom employees” – funded, unfilled FTE positions — $25,000,000
  • Enact the “Principal Plan” – pay reduction for state employees — $72,500,000
  • Charge state employees a monthly fee for health insurance — $17,800,000
  • Sell the fleet, outsource vehicle leasing — $34,000,000
  • Reduce office supplies, service contracts, equipment purchases — $10,000,000
  • Combine all state information technology systems — $20,000,000
  • Sell or lease the Iowa Communications Network –$15,000,000
  • Reduce funding for Library acquisitions at Regents by 50% — $13,500,000
  • No DNR land acquisition for FY 2010 — $5,000,000
  • Freeze out of state travel (allow a waiver process) — $1,500,000
  • Eliminate “extras” on existing state vehicle purchases — $87,000
  • Archiving Iowa Governor’s Records — Reduce by 50% — $39,000
  • Eliminate Washington, DC Internship (seek private funding) — $90,000
  • Eliminate miscellaneous expenses for DOT garage in Rockwell City — $78,000
  • Eliminate charter flights by members of the DOT commission –$17,000

Here are the ideas that were offered during the 2010 session:

  • End all state benefits to adult illegal immigrants — $92.3 million
  • Combine the administrative functions at the three regents universities — $62 million
  • Shift voluntary preschool responsibilities to Empowerment — $45 million
  • Eliminate Culver’s Power Fund and Office of Energy Independence — $25 million
  • Sell and privatize the state vehicle fleet — $18.5 million
  • Sell or lease the Iowa Communication Network — $15 million
  • Delay implementation of the core curriculum one year — $10.5 million
  • Cancel all regents university sabbaticals for one year — $6 million
  • Reduce funding for office supplies, service contracts, equipment purchases — $5 million
  • Eliminate taxpayer-funded lobbyists — $4 million
  • Eliminate Just Eliminate Lies anti-smoking campaign — $2.25 million
  • Eliminate family planning waiver — $2 million
  • Eliminate empty shelter care beds — $2 million
  • Eliminate Rebuild Iowa Office, shift responsibility to Homeland Security — $1 million

Had the Democrats taken these amendments, there would have been no need for the Governor’s 10 percent across the board cut which raised property taxes by a half a billion dollars. In addition, the budget would not have over $1 billion in built-in spending already on the books for FY 2012.