Republicans in the Iowa House have released their overall state budget outline for the next fiscal year and it calls for spending about $170 million less than Governor Terry Branstad, a fellow Republican, and Democrats in the Iowa Senate have proposed.
“House Republicans are serious and we’re committed to balancing ongoing revenue with ongoing expenses,” House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, told reporters this morning.
House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake said it is “not surprising” the House G-O-P has a goal of spending less than the governor and Democrats in the senate.
“Then we work together and we come to a solution and get it done,” Upmeyer said.
But Paulsen indicated Republicans in the House will resist using the more than $400-million in unspent money from the present budgeting year, unless it’s used for “legitimate one-time expenses” like paying off state bonding debts or financing infrastructure projects.
“That’s one boundary we’ve laid out for several years now and we’re very serious about it,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen often refers to the unspent money left over at the end of the state budgeting year on June 30th as the “overpayment” of taxes.
“We’ve been pretty clear,” Paulsen said today. “We’d love to leave more money in the taxpayers’ hands.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs said the tax-cutting ideas Republicans favor would provide only “peanuts” to most Iowans.
“They want to save money for a giant tax cut for their wealthy contributors,” Gronstal told reporters this morning.
And Gronstal said the lower state spending level House Republicans propose would cause “significant problems.”
“People’s phone calls will go unanswered,” Gronstal said. “…It will take longer to process permits…I think it has a very significant impact on state services.”
The spending level Senate Democrats and Republican Governor Branstad have proposed is “fiscally prudent,” according to Gronstal. Jimmy Centers, a spokesman for the governor, said Branstad and his staff will continue to work with both the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate to try to find an agreement.
“The governor’s priority, as it has been since he took office in 2011, is to provide stability and predictability in the budgeting process, something that he believes the taxpayers deserve,” Centers said this morning.
Republicans and Democrats at the statehouse remain at odds over one key spending decision: how much state aid to direct of Iowa’s public school districts. That difference is reflected in the general budget outline House Republicans released today. House Democrats said 153 of Iowa’s superintendents have responded to a survey asking how they’ve responded to the “education spending crisis” and indicating they have collectively issued 298 “pink slips” to teachers and will not fill 405 positions for the fall semester. Over 100 of the superintendents said they plan to raise local property taxes to balance their school budgets.