July 25, 2014

Groups ask the state to spend surplus on services

A coalition of several Iowa groups is calling on Governor Branstad and state legislators to use the state’s budget surplus to restore cuts made to public services during the recession. Members of the Coalition for a Better Iowa spoke at a statehouse news conference today, including Sue Dinsdale with Iowa Main Street Alliance.

“With our current budget surplus, elected officials need to understand what so many Iowans and local communities already know – the time for cuts is over,” Dinsdale said. Adam Mason, with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said Iowa’s cash reserves and “rainy day” funds now total almost $1 billion and he’s hoping lawmakers will direct some of that money toward improving infrastructure and public services.

“Regardless of who is controlling the House and who is controlling the Senate, I think what we’re here saying today is that we all need to come together and do what’s best in budgeting for Iowans,” Mason said. “We have a billion dollar surplus, so we can actually afford to start reinvesting in public services that have suffered in the last four to five years.”

Tim Albrecht, the spokesman for Governor Branstad, said the governor isn’t ready to raid the surplus. “The answer to stability and predictability is not simply spending every dollar you take in – but rather, looking at it within a five year projection,” Albrecht said.

“Medicaid costs will continue going up. We don’t want to spend all of those dollars and then be forced to cut services or benefits to Medicaid recipients.” Albrecht said the state’s current surplus exists because taxpayers are sending more money to the government.

“Just because taxpayers are writing bigger checks to the government doesn’t mean we need to spend it all. We should look at sharing that prosperity with them,” Albrecht said. He added the governor is committed to cutting individual property taxes and corporate income and property taxes.