State Auditor Dave Vaudt warns state officials face tough budget decisions in the days and months ahead. Declining tax payments to the state have forced Governor Culver to cut nearly 140-million dollars from the current year’s state budget. Vaudt, a Republican, suggests Culver wouldn’t have had to cut so deep if he and fellow Democrats who control the Iowa legislature hadn’t spent so much last spring.
"The sad part is we had plenty of warning signals last year when they were developing the fiscal 2009 budget," Vaudt says, "so it shouldn’t be a surprise." Vaudt contends next year’s budget cuts will be even worse because Democrats in the legislature have dipped too far into the state’s savings accounts.
"What’s happening is we don’t have those ‘cookie jars’ to turn to anymore," Vaudt says, "so it’s going to make our problems that much deeper." The state does have $620 million in a "rainy day" fund, but Vaudt estimates the state faces a six-hundred million dollar shortfall in the next budgeting year.
"That’s not going to be easy to deal with along with the floods and the fact that we need reserve funds to cash flow because we can’t make school aid payments without those dollars on hand," the auditor says. Last week, Governor Culver announced 77 million dollars worth of midyear reductions and he’ll announce another 60 million dollars in cuts this week.