A three-member panel of financial experts met today (Friday) and concluded the state will collect more tax money than they’d predicted in December. The group estimates the state will collect about 30 million dollars in new revenue from the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines before they’re shut down, and there’s another 20-million dollars worth of one-time tax receipts to the state.
Republicans like Representative Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale who heads the House Appropriations Committee, want to save that money. Raecker says the extra cash should be deposited in the state’s “rainy day” savings account. “That’s critically important because that’s the place that we have had to rely on in difficult budget times and we really need to make sure that fund is full,” Raecker says.
Senator Jeff Angelo, a Republican from Creston who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says if the state takes in more taxes than originally planned, the extra should be used to refill the state savings accounts that were tapped into, like the senior living trust fund. “Ending the ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ budget mentality that has existed…during what were the lean revenue years,” Angelo says. But Democrats plan to push to spend that new tax revenue.
Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says that new money is needed to raise teacher pay. “We are not going to leave this session leaving teacher salaries at 41st in the country,” Gronstal says. “That simply is unacceptable.” Republicans control the debate agenda in the House, and have endorsed an education package that does not include the 30-million dollars Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack wants for teacher pay hikes.
Gronstal says the House G-O-P plan is D-O-A in the Senate which is evenly divided with 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats. “The House budget, as passed, isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and will not get a single vote from Democrats in the Senate,” Gronstal says