A spokesman for the House Speaker says Republicans in the Iowa House have come up with a “status quo” spending plan for the next state fiscal year that begins July 1st.
At the end of May, a state panel predicted state tax revenue will drop by $360 million in the next 12 months due to the pandemic-induced recession.
During a weekend appearance on Iowa PBS, Republican House Speaker Pat Grassley said while that dip is significant, the GOP’s previous budget plan held enough in reserve to compensate.
“Unlike a lot of other states that are going to be pushed to the brink, yes, this will be difficult to get through,” Grassley said, “but we can manage it.”
The House GOP plan is to basically keep state spending levels equal to the current year and not use any of the state’s cash reserve or emergency funds. That’s because
the GOP included a roughly half-a-billion dollar cushion in the current year’s budget that can be spent instead.
Republicans in the Iowa Senate have not released their spending outline yet, but Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver echoed Grassley’s sentiments about the state’s ability to handle the downturn.
“A lot of states are having massive cuts because they weren’t conservative up front and we were and so we’re in a very strong position, but we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we have to come back in January because we overspent and start slashing budgets mid-year,” Whitver said last Friday on the “Iowa Press” program on Iowa PBS. “If you’re going to make cuts, the time to do it is before the year starts, not halfway though when contracts are signed, employees have contracts in place, so we want to make those tough decisions now.”
Both Whitver and Grassley have said the legislature will provide its promised increase in general state aid to K-12 schools.
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet early this evening to begin debating the House GOP’s spending outline.