The battle lines for this fall’s election are already being drawn by legislators of both parties. Republicans have begun accusing Democrats of plotting to spend more money than the state collects in taxes next year, while Democrats dispute the calculation and accuse the GOP of being a bit too stingy.
Senator Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, says caution is appropriate.
“When you look at the overall budget that the Democrats are proposing, they’re really going back to the failed policies of the past, the policies that gave us a billion dollar shortfall and across the board cuts,” Dix says, “because they are proposing to spend almost 102 percent of anticipated revenues.”
Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says that calculation is wrong and Democrats plan to spend 96 percent of available tax revenue and make some key investments.
“I think it’s time for all of you on the other side of the aisle to get off of this voting no on everything,” Kibbie said. “…Whether it’s health care or education or jobs, it’s the same answer on all those issues: no.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal says the state is running a $380 million surplus at a time when Republicans are calling for deep cuts in a variety of state initiatives.
“There’s a point at which you become penny wise and pound foolish,” Gronstal says.
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says federal budget problems may trickle down to the state level and Republicans want to have plenty of money in reserve if that happens.
“There’s potential there to have huge problems,” Paulsen says, “which is why we need to make sure we’re in a strong financial position.”
Legislators will shift attention toward budget-writing this next week, as the House and Senate debate bills which outline spending for the next state fiscal year that begins July 1.