Governor Culver is embracing 90 different budget-cutting ideas — from cutting newspaper and magazine subscriptions to selling off some state-owned property. The private consultants Culver hired to wade through the state budget suggest $1.7 billion could be saved within five years if all their ideas were implemented.
About $22-million worth of the “efficiencies” identified in the consultants’ report comes from collecting overdue fines and fees owed to the state and the governor says the state may hire private collection agencies to do the work. The report concludes getting more state workers to take early retirement would save nearly 60-million dollars in the next state budgeting year.
A major point of debate in the 2010 legislative session may be the consultants’ recommendation that the operations of the Iowa State Highway Patrol be financed with $50-million worth of state gas taxes. That money is presently reserved for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges and the state’s construction industry will likely mount a lobbying campaign against that proposal.
Consolidation of the state’s computer systems is among the other suggestions. The governor admits money will have to be spent on new servers, for example, if most of the 223 data centers in state government are to be merged. The consulting firm also suggested the state might be paying as much as three-million dollars to provide health insurance for the “ineligible dependents” of state workers.