Democratic legislators plan to establish a website next week so state workers and anyone else can submit ideas for cutting the state budget.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says it’ll be set up so the suggestions come in anonymously. "We understand that some people run the risk of getting in trouble if they talk about those things, so we’re going to make it confidential," Murphy says, "but we’re going to be taking suggestions from anybody in the state and hopefully people that work in state government or deal directly with state goernment to find out where they think there’s problems in state government."
Murphy says the website is a good way to get a lot of different suggestions from a lot of different people. One idea he’s heard already came a business owner who regularly pays taxes to the state. "There’s some things they still can’t do by e-conmerce or e-filing," Murphy says. "They have to do some business receipts to the state by snail mail and they’re talking about the incurred costs and they think it’ll save $1- to 2 million a year and they even talked about the fact that all the contiguous states that they do business with, they’re able to do it through e-files."
On Wednesday Governor Chet Culver filed a budget plan with lawmakers that would cut most state agencies’ budgets six-and-a-half percent. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs has directed fellow legislators to "sharpen their pencils" and look for deeper cuts. "This is going to be a tough budget year and we’re going to struggle through it," Gronstal says.
Republicans like Senate G.O.P. Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton say more cuts are necessary. "Over the past 24 months, we have seen spending explode by 21 percent," McKinley says. "The governor now proposes cutting by six and a half percent, so that at least is a start." McKinley says Republicans are still looking at the details in the governor’s budget plan and don’t have many specifics to offer today.
Click on the audio link below to hear all of what legislative leaders from both political parties had to say in news conference today.