Governor Chet Culver is boasting that the state’s financial situation is better than it’s been in nearly a decade. "There is now almost $600 million in our reserves, more funding in our reserves than at any time in our state," Culver says. That money is held in a sort of "rainy day" account to be used when state resources are strapped by an economic downturn or some sort of natural or manmade disaster.
Republicans criticize Democrats like Culver for crafting a state spending plan that’s about 10 percent larger than last year’s state budget, but Culver calls it a responsible budget. "During my budget address, I made it very clear I wanted to work with the legislature to create a budget that reflected our priorities, but also adhered to our responsibilities of protecting the taxpayer dollar," Culver says.
Culver is embarking on a tour of the state to tout what he sees as the accomplishments of the just-concluded 2007 Iowa Legislative session. The governor’s list includes hikes in teacher salaries and the minimum wage as well as new state investments in the renewable fuels industry. "The bottom line is this: in January, the legislature, the lieutenant governor and I made many promises to the people of Iowa," Culver says. "As you can see, those promises were made and those promises were kept."
Culver still has to decide whether to sign or veto about one-hundred bills that cleared the legislature. May 30th is the deadline for his decisions.