Governor Chet Culver has a batch of budget bills on his desk waiting for his review. The governor has "item veto" authority which he could use to cut some of the spending in those bills, but Culver says the budget plan his fellow Democrats in the legislature drew up will get his endorsement.
"We just had very honest and fair negotiations on the budget so it’s not likely we’ll see a lot more in cuts," Culver says. Republicans criticize the budget plan Democrats developed, calling it bloated. Culver counters that many state agencies will be spending less next year compared to the current budgeting year.
Culver also says the budget plan doesn’t spend down to the last dime. "That was really the fight, to make sure we left enough in the ending balance," Culver says. "We left around $100 million."
Culver calls that $100 million a cushion which, along with the four-hundred million that remains in the state’s cash reserve, will help state government ride out what could be a rocky 12-month period. State officials are using millions in federal economic stimulus dollars, too, to bolster education and welfare spending over the next budgeting year.
"I don’t think you can underestimate the challenge this year to balance, even with the stimulus," Culver says. "I mean, we’re going through a worldwide recession." Culver has until midnight Tuesday to take action on bills legislators sent to his desk.
Culver says he’s going through the more than 60 bills that remain on his docket one-by-one. The 2009 Iowa legislative session ended on Sunday, April 26.