Governor Chet Culver has unveiled a plan for state spending for the budgeting year that begins July 1st and includes over $341 million in savings the governor says can be achieved through streamlining and other changes.
That’s far more than is included in preliminary legislation being considered in the House and Senate.
During a news conference in his statehouse office, Culver called his spending plan a starting point in his negotiations with legislators who will draft their own spending plan over the next few months.
“First of all, the budget is balanced. It does not raise taxes on hardworking Iowans and it protects our priorities which will continue to strengthen our state, keep our committment to the men and women who wear the uniform,” Culver said. “It will allow us to keep our commitment to children, public safety and education at all levels, too.”
According to documents released by the governor, the budget Culver proposes is roughly equal to the budget the state operated under when he first took office. “This budget is almost $65 million smaller than the first one I submitted as governor in 2007,” Culver said.
Culver unveiled many of his “big ticket” recommendations earlier this month. Culver’s request for $100 million from the state’s cash reserve for K-through-12 public schools isn’t likely to be endorsed by legislators according to a top Democrat in the Iowa House. Culver isn’t giving up on the idea, though.
“We have to help our public schools — K-to-12. They’ve suffered a great deal because of the 10 percent cut and the downturn in our economy,” Culver said “And I really hope that we can find consensus on providing up to $100 million in additional funds for those 361 school districts.”
Legislative leaders from both parties quickly issued written statements about Culver’s entire budget draft. Democratic leaders said Culver’s plan “responds to the concerns of middle class Iowans,” and continues efforts to reduce state spending. Republicans say Culver’s plan would spend more money than the state will collect in taxes. Culver, meanwhile, stressed that he understands legislators have concerns about some of his proposals.
“This is a starting point,” Culver said. “I’m very respectful of our separation of powers and appreciate we will have differences and at the end of the day, though, we’ve got to find consensus.”
Hear Culver’s budget news conference here: Culver Budget 23:32 MP3
See the entire budget document presented to lawmakers today here:FY11 BUDGET REPORT Revised FINAL PDF