Iowa lawmakers will have to pare down the state spending plans they were drafting before the pandemic hit.
The state Revenue Estimating Conference met this afternoon and lowered its estimate of state tax collections. The governor’s budget director and a division chief from the Legislative Services Agency were more optimistic about an economic recovery than Clear Lake CPA David Underwood. He’s the third member of the panel.
“I don’t think we have reached a bottom,” Underwood said. “We certainly could climb out and fall back rather quickly.”
Underwood argued to set a far lower estimate of state tax collections.
“I think most of the businesses that we’re hoping are going to reopen — a lot of those won’t,” Underwood said.
But, in the end, the group agreed to slice $360 million off its earlier prediction of next year’s state tax collections. Holly Lyons of the Legislative Services Agency said the real economic consequences of the pandemic are still unknown and that’s why she resisted a deeper reduction.
“I’m a little concerned about the message that we send,” Lyons said. “There’s enough fear and trepidation now out there.”
Dave Roederer, the governor’s budget director, said he believes the economic setbacks of the past 12 weeks are temporary, not permanent.
“While bruised and somewhat battered, our fundamentals are still strong in this state,” Roederer said. “…Is everything rosy? Of course not.”
But Roederer said he believes “most if not all” the Iowans who’ve lost their jobs will be able to go back to work.”
The three-member panel predicts overall state tax revenue in the next fiscal year will be just eight-tenths of a percent below this year’s total. The group shaved $150 million off their estimate of the state’s tax take in this fiscal year, but it will not require emergency state budget cuts in the next month. The current state budget has an unspent cushion of nearly $400 million to dip into to cover that.