Your Capitol Voice: All 3 budget numbers on state table
by Bobby Kaufman, State Representative · Op-Ed · March 08, 2013

House Republicans have released their first set of budget numbers for the session. Senate Democrats also came out with their budget and the Governor’s numbers came out in January.
Like any negotiation, the end product will be the “middle ground.” Of course, the politics will be that Republicans are low and criticism will revolve around a 3 percent increase in ongoing revenue, but leaving $800 million in the unspent balance. Senate Democrats have an 11-percent increase, clearly not sustainable and a return to the Culver budgets that led to across-the-board cuts. Of course both numbers are starting points.

Iowa is fortunate enough to be in a sound fiscal position but it is my duty to not overpromise. Our fiscal outlook is good now but it doesn’t always stay that way and any budget votes I take must not spend more than the State takes in.

We must NOT use one-time dollars for ongoing revenue, and programs must be fully funded to avoid a supplemental spending bill midway through the year. That situation has happened in the past and ends up harming programs by needing across the board cuts in the middle of the fiscal year.

The starting House proposal calls for state General Fund spending to be at $6.414 billion in the next year starting on July 1. Again this amounts to a modest increase in state spending of just 3 percent. The House proposal spends 98.11 percent of the projected on-going revenue for the fiscal year.

The state would have an ending balance of $840.3 million at the end of FY 2014. Of course at least $500 million of that is off-the-table for any spending since it is our emergency funds and also need for cash flow.

For Fiscal Year 2014, the General Fund will be divided amongst the budget subcommittees. The following are the raw numbers for the three largest budget subcommittees.

• Education - $894.6 million (increase of $33.9 million)

• Health & Human Services - $1.699 billion (increase of $30.8 million)

• Justice Systems & the Courts - $702.2 million (increase of $16.3 million)

In terms of setting priorities, the House Republican plan maintains the priority of fully-funding commitments on property tax credits for the first time since FY 2002 and fulfills the commitment for mental health equalization funding.

The budget plan also includes the funding necessary to maintain Iowans’ commitment to education, by including the funding necessary to allow the Regents universities to freeze tuition, $10 million in new money to the community colleges, and a 2-percent increase in supplemental state aid for our local schools. Education, public safety, health care, and property taxes are clearly the priority in this budget and this is where the common ground begins for our negotiations with the Senate.

I ran my first bill on the floor this week. It was a bill stating that any provision of an in-state contract that subjects that contract to out of state laws makes that part of the contract void.

Contractors were having issues with subcontracting to companies from out of state and then being forced to abide by other states laws or having to travel long distance for litigation. It passed on the floor 89-7, receiving overwhelming bipartisan support. Our local contractors and business people lobbied me on this bill through their organizations.

I have already managed six bills that have passed committee and one on the floor. Every bill has passed with strong bipartisan support, three of them unanimous.

I am friends with quite a few of the Democrats in the House. I visit with them often, run ideas past them, and solicit opinions. I also spend a lot of time in the Senate. I am focused on results and the reality is that nothing I want to become law can do so without passing through a Senate controlled by the other party.

I promised you a bipartisan attitude and so far I am making good on that promise. There will be disagreements and times when issues are very partisan, but I will always have an open mind and represent my constituents.

Listening Posts (March 9): 9 a.m. Wilton Community Room; 1 p.m. West Branch Library

Capitol visitors: Laurie Tulchin-Iowa City, Jim Glasgow-Iowa City, Todd Frisch-Durant, Bob and Mary Burns-Lake MacBride, Dave & Mary Gilchrist- Lake MacBride

You may contact Rep. Kaufmann at, 515-281-3221 or 1527 330th St. Wilton, IA, 52778

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