Republicans in the Iowa House have unveiled their preferred cuts in the current year’s state budget.
It’s a plan that pares slightly more than Republican Governor Kim Reynolds recommended in early January, but far less than Republicans in the Senate proposed two weeks ago.
Representative Pat Grassley of New Hartford says he and his fellow House Republicans “feel pretty strongly” their approach fulfills the legislature’s obligation to keep the budget in the black — and leave a little in reserve as a cushion.
“Came up with a number that met the $33.7 million worth of adjustments that we need, in a little bit different manner than the everyone else in the building,” Grassley says, “but they feel very strongly we were able to do it in a responsible manner and still protect some of our priorities.”
The most significant difference between the two plans would be the impact on Iowa’s 15 area community colleges. Senate Republicans proposed $5.4 million in cuts to the current state fiscal year.
“Whenever we had a conversation about the FY18 adjustments, that was the number one issue that came up,” Grassley says.
Under the House GOP proposal, community colleges would have to figure out how to cut just $500,000 from this year’s budget. The House GOP plan calls for $8.1 million in cuts to the three state universities. That is nearly 60 percent less than Senate Republicans proposed in cuts for the University of Iowa, Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa.
Democrats are criticizing all the budget-cutting plans Republicans have devised. Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, says it shows a “lack of fiscal discipline” from the Republicans who crafted the original state budget plan.
“Any time that the state has to enact budget cuts mid-year at a point in time when the economy’s growing, there seems to be some mismanagement of how the state budget is going forward,” Hall says.
There are 142 days left in the current state budgeting year.