A Democrat from Minnesota says Iowa’s Republican governor has the right idea when it comes to asking for a two-year state budget. Governor Branstad says a two-year state budget plan is “non-negotiable” for him, but Democrats in the Iowa Senate have yet to agree to such a plan.
Larry Pogemiller, a Democrat from Minneapolis, serves in the Minnesota State Senate. “The longer the horizon you look out, the more conservative you are in both your budget reduction patterns and your spending patterns, so that you can be closer to reality when it hits,” Pogemiller says. “And you then don’t get these fits and starts in spending and budget cuts that really disrupt quality public services.”
Minnesota’s state legislature has been approving two-year budgets for more than 30 years. The State of Iowa hasn’t operated under a two-year budget since the 1980s, when Terry Branstad was governor before. Missouri abandoned two-year budgets in the 1960s. Marty Drewel, assistant budget director for the State of Missouri, says lawmakers were often forced to make major adjustments in the second year of those two-year budgets.
“In those off-years, there were supplemental budgets being prepared and it got to the point that the supplemental budget was almost identical to what an annual budget would look like anyway,” Drewel says, “so that was part of the decision.” Democrats in Iowa say Republican Governor Branstad’s call for a two-year budget is a “power grab” and it will be difficult for legislators of one party to convince a governor of the other party to make changes in the second year once a 24-month-long budget plan is adopted.
Drewel says there’s no move in Missouri to make the move Branstad suggests. “Our constitution here in Missouri delegates the appropriation power to the General Assembly and that’s taken very seriously here and I think to go to a two-year (budget) cycle certainly would take some of that control away from the General Assembly,” Drewel says.
Missouri has a Democratic governor and Republicans control the legislature. Pogemiller, the Democrat from Minnesota, says legislators in his state are actually pushing Minnesota’s new governor to prepare four-year budget projections. “It’s not conservative or liberal in terms of how you spend the money,” he says. “It’s just conservative in the sense that you are trying to be more thoughtful and you are trying to avoid big swings in both either spending or budget reductions.”
The showdown over a two-year budget is one of the reason’s the 2011 Iowa legislative session has not drawn to a close. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states currently prepare two-year budgets. Drewel and Pogemiller made their comments on the Iowa Public Radio program “The Exchange”.