Key legislators say the slow down in Iowa’s ag economy means state budget prospects will likely be scaled back in 2015. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha is the top-ranking Republican in the legislature and he says while Iowa’s overall economy is growing, not all budget demands can be met because farm income is on the decline.
“That will make it a very difficult budget year, but just ’cause it’s difficult doesn’t mean we won’t figure out how to get through it and so we will do that,” Paulsen says. “I think people have to have some pretty tempered expectations when it comes to that.”
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs is the top-ranking Democrat in the legislature. Gronstal says he’s “upbeat” about prospects for 2015, but Gronstal says Paulsen makes a valid point about the budget difficulties ahead. “And that is not going to make this a particularly easy year,” Gronstal said. “…Come January, people of good faith on both sides of the political aisle are going to sit down and work together and try and face some of Iowa’s most pressing problems. Some of those will be easy. Some of them will be hard. Some of them we won’t get done because we won’t be able to put that all together.”
Legislators in the past have promised increased state spending to bolster education reform efforts in K-through-12 schools as well as the promise of state tax revenue to replace lost local property tax collections due to the commercial property tax reductions approved in the 2014 legislative session. To meet those promises, legislative leaders say it is likely other areas of the budget will have to be leaner.