The 56 Democrats who serve in the Iowa House are meeting in private Friday in Grinnell and their leader says they’d better come armed with ideas for cutting state spending rather than increasing it.
A report issued earlier today shows that after refunds were issued, total state tax collections fell 19 percent in September. House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says that report is top of mind for legislators.
“It’ll probably diffuse a lot of ideas if they cost money because there’s really no money,” Murphy says. “The big part we will be looking at is things we will be able to find cost savings from.”
The magnitude of the drop in state tax receipts is stark and may prompt Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, to order an across-the-board cut in state spending. Republican legislators have been calling for a special legislative session this fall to make selective cuts, but Murphy — the top Democrat in the House — says they can wait to restore funding in selected areas when the 2010 Legislative session convenes in January.
“We will be working with the governor on whatever we need to do on the budget. If he wants to do an across the board cut and backfill, we’re willing work with him in those areas,” Murphy says. “Quite frankly we’ve felt like we’re a team and we want to continue that team process.”
A three-member panel of financial experts meets next Wednesday, October 7 to set the official estimate of state tax revenue for the coming year — a figure which spells out the scope of state spending.