Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today said he’s instituting a new budget process that’ll make each department justify the money they receive based on six priority areas. In the past, each department had been guaranteed 75-percent of their budget dollars, and had to justify the remaining budget. Vilsack says the new process will make the departments more accountable.He says they’ll start at zero and each department is being asked to put together offers to meet the six priorities of the government. A group then looks at the offers and sees how they tie into the results the government expects. Vilsack says the priority process will set the agenda. He says they’ll then put together the budget based on the priorities and will tell the Legislature what they decided to fund and what they decided not to fund. Vilsack says there will be a line drawn in the budget, to seperate the items that are recommended for funding, from those that’re not. He says there will no doubt be items that have historically been above the line, that will be below the line in this new process. Vilsack says he doesn’t know yet which programs won’t be funded as they haven’t completed the budget yet. Vilsack says this adds a new dimension to the budget process. Vilsack says it’s important to note that in the past you would never know what things had been considered and hadn’t been funded. He says that will let the legislature and the public see what wasn’t funded and open discussion about those items. Vilsack says the “zero-based” budgeting approach is another piece in improving state government. He says they’re excited about the new approach because he thinks it will create greater accountability. He says it’s results oriented and will tell the people of Iowa that their “hard earned” dollars are being put to the best use possible. Vilsack says the six priority areas for the budget are: transforming Iowa’s economy, improving student achievement, keeping Iowans healthy, ensuring Iowa communities are safe, preserving the quality of natural resources, and increasing government accountability.
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