State lawmakers have two-hundred-40-million more tax dollars to spend in the next fiscal year than is being spent in the current budgeting year. A three-member panel of financial experts issued its prediction of state tax collections late Monday.
Representative Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale, is chairman of the Iowa House Appropriations Committee. Raecker says while the group predicts there’ll be two-hundred-40-million dollars in “new money,” legislators face five-hundred million dollars worth of new expenses next year. “It’s good news that the economy is starting to pick up (but) I think we still need to be conservative,” Raecker says.
Iowa Department of Management director Mike Tramontina is the governor’s point man in drafting a state budget plan.
“The economy in Iowa is doing well,” Tramontina says. “The one discussion I heard there was…’since we already have such low unemployment, where are we going to find more workers?’ Gosh, that’s a very positive outlook on the economy right there.”
Legislative Services Agency director Dennis Prouty says it appears high gas and energy prices haven’t had that much of an impact on the Iowa economy. “I wouldn’t say that the economy is bubbling,” Prouty says. “I think it’s had positive signs.”
The group of financial experts that met Monday also guesses that the state will take in nearly 52 million more dollars in just the next six months than they’d previously predicted. Lawmakers and the governor can choose to spend that money between now and June 30th when the current state fiscal year ends.