Please disable your Ad Blocker to better interact with this website.

Budget targets released, no movement on education funding

Income TaxBy Bob Eschliman
Editor

 

Despite no new movement on negotiations between the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, work on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget continued this week.

Although they are hundreds of millions of dollars apart on spending targets, and both budgets would increase spending to record levels, both sides claim their proposals were fiscally responsible, and spend less than the state takes in. The 2015 legislative session is scheduled to end next Friday.

Wednesday, the House leadership released their budget plan, which Republicans say will spend 99.9-percent of ongoing revenue. The $7.18 billion proposal is about $182 million off the Senate proposal, and $166 million less than Gov. Terry Branstad’s recommended budget.

“It is important to Iowans that we do not spend more than we have and live within our means.  While standing by this principle for the last five legislative sessions, Republicans have found common ground with the Governor and Senate Democrats.  We expect that to continue those efforts this year,” House Budget Committee chair, state Rep. Chuck Soderberg (R-Le Mars), said.  “Living within one’s means is something the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa do every day.  Government needs to do the same.”

Actual FY 2014 spending was $6.48 billion, and the FY 2015 estimate is $6.99 billion, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. All three proposed budgets would be the largest in state history.

This chart shows the growth of state spending in each of the budget target areas, as well as the three budget proposals from Senate Democrats, Gov. Terry Branstad, and House Republicans. (Click to enlarge)

This chart shows the growth of state spending in each of the budget target areas, as well as the three budget proposals from Senate Democrats, Gov. Terry Branstad, and House Republicans. (Click to enlarge)

Senate Budget Committee chair Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) blasted the House proposal, saying it would be “a devastating blow to Iowa’s families,” He said House Republicans appeared determined to “needlessly deny opportunities and essential services.”

“Senate Democrats have sensibly compromised by agreeing to a general fund spending total of a $7.341 billion, the same total called for by Governor Branstad and $149.1 million below the state’s 99 percent expenditure limitation,” he said. “Our number one goal is making Iowa’s middle class larger and more secure. We remain committed to strategic investments that will help Iowa workers gain new skills, improve our local schools, and grow Main Street businesses.”

The Senate budget targets were released last week, and was based on the December 2014 Revenue Estimating Conference estimate. As a result, it appears to spend $149.1 million less than the 99-percent expenditure limitation. However, the March REC estimate lowered revenue expectations by $20 million, and the FY 2014 REC estimate ended up being off the mark by about $400 million.