The state auditor says there are “still areas for improvement” in state budgeting practices, but Republican Auditor Dave Vaudt says the budget plan Republican Governor Terry Branstad proposed in January has “come a long way” in the right direction.
Vaudt did say the state budget for the current year is bigger than his fellow Republicans have claimed. Republicans in the House insisted their “General Fund” plan for the current budgeting year spent just under $6-billion.
According to Vaudt’s analysis, it’s actually half a billion dollars more than that. Vaudt also raised a red flag about another issue. Branstad’s budget plan did not set aside money to provide salary increases for state employees.
State agencies, therefore, would have to make budget cuts in other areas, lay off workers and enforce unpaid time off for employees. Vaudt warns this practice will “significantly impact the level of services” state agencies can provide.
Vaudt also called on the governor and legislators to come up with a long-term fix for the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System. That state pension system has an unfunded liability of more than $5.5-billion.
Branstad says he “inherited a mess” and has “tried to work diligently” to fix budget practices, like using one-time windfalls to the state treasury to pay for on-going expenses.