The state’s fiscal year draws to a close June 30th, and Governor Tom Vilsack says tax receipts haven’t fallen as much as predicted. Vilsack says state tax collections are about one-and-a-half percent better than anticipated, although still less than last year. That means the state could close the year with about 70-million dollars in the bank, money that will be deposited in the state’s cash reserve. Vilsack and legislators had to make two rounds of cuts to this past year’s state budget as the economy soured, dragging state income tax and sales tax returns down as Iowans’ wages and consumer spending sagged. Vilsack says Iowa’s budget is doing o-k when compared to neighboring states. Minnesota’s delaying millions of dollars in school payments. Wisconsin still has a billion dollar deficit. Illinois isn’t paying over a billion dollars in bills. Missouri didn’t pay tax refunds and Nebraska raised taxes. The next state budgeting year starts Monday, and it’s lean. Most state workers will be forced to take some unpaid days off; some may be laid-off. Vilsack says they’re working with the agencies and encouraging them to be innovative. The Legislature and Governor agreed in late May to offer another round of early retirement incentives to state workers, if four small state unions agreed to delay pay raises as the state’s largest union, AFSCME, has. Employees would get a lump sum check covering their unused days of vacation and sick leave. Workers have ’til August 14th to make the retirement decision. Almost six hundred workers retired early in February, saving the state over 11-million dollars in payroll expenses.
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