The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate says the state’s financial position is “daunting,” but Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal is ruling out a tax increase as a “fix” for the situation.
State tax revenues have been on the decline and, in September, there was a 19 percent drop in state tax collections. According to Gronstal, it’s “highly likely” Governor Culver will order an across-the-board cut in state spending this month. Gronstal says raising taxes to fill the gap isn’t something legislators are considering.
“We need to respect what’s happening to family budgets out there,” Gronstal said during this morning’s taping of IPTV’s “Iowa Press” program. “They’re going through the same kinds of struggles and we’re not going to pile on by adding new taxes at the state level to people struggling to meet their own kids’ health care needs or their own kids’ educational needs.”
According to Gronstal, legislators have a “bumpy road” ahead in January when they start crafting next year’s state budget.
“We’re going to really struggle with our budget. We’re going to struggle to maintain the critical services, things like health care, education in the state. We’re going to have trouble maintaining our commitment to those things so there’s a very bumpy road, but the long-term economics for Iowa, I actually think, are quite bright,” Gronstal said. “We have a great farm economy. We have new value to commodities, so the long-term I think is fairly bright for us. It’s going to take us a while to get out of this.”
The union contract with state employees does not call for a wage increase this year and Gronstal said on top of that, state employees will “pay at the workplace” with greater workloads, as retiring workers aren’t replaced and some, “limited” layoffs occur.
“Listen, our hope would be that we can manage this through attrition,” Gronstal told a group of reporters after this morning’s taping. “…There’s going to be more work for fewer employees.”
“Iowa Press” airs this evening on IPTV’s 11.3 channel