By Paul McKinley, Iowa Senate Republican Leader
The second most spending in state history. That’s the unfortunate legacy of the 2010 session.
Iowans will remember this legislative session as one of missed opportunities. Senate Republicans believed this session should have been focused on the important priority areas of private sector job creation, property tax relief and budget and spending reform.
Instead, legislative Democrats, with the blessing of Governor Culver, used the session as an opportunity to again continue the irresponsible spending that has plagued Iowa for the past three years.
Legislative Democrats authorized $5.3 billion dollars in spending using ongoing funds. That is the number they use to discuss the size of the budget. But that is only giving Iowans part of the picture.
Beyond the $5.3 billion, there is also $732 million in one-time dollars that will be used for ongoing expenses. These one-time dollars are found from raiding and therefore leaving many of Iowa’s important savings accounts at dangerously low levels. In addition, they also exhausted any existing federal dollars that were sent to Iowa as part of President Obama’s bailout in early 2009.
Added together, it surpasses over $6 billion dollars in spending which includes tens of millions of dollars in wasteful pork projects.
Once again, we have a budget that does not reflect the true priorities of the taxpayers who pay for it all and again spends far too much. The consequences will impact the lives of every Iowan.
Yet, all of that does not include the added property tax increases that will be piled on top of local property taxpayers in literally every corner of the state. Conservative estimates suggest the total of Governor Culver’s property tax increase is around $186 million dollars. It’s likely the final number could be much higher.
So where does all of this spending leave Iowa down the road? With a serious problem!
Given the use of one-time dollars for on-going expenses and the built in spending increases that have been put on auto-pilot, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency has indicated that next year’s budget deficit will be just over $1 billion dollars. Keep in mind, Iowa did not even have a $1 billion dollar budget until 1976.
Not a single Republican in either the Senate or House of Representatives voted for any of the Governor Culver and legislative Democrats’ budget the last two years because we have listened to the citizens of Iowa. Iowans have made it abundantly clear that the record spending, eye-popping deficits and generational debt is unacceptable and irresponsible. We simply have more government than our economy can support.
Thankfully, our state’s Constitution requires a balanced budget but that means Iowa’s new governor and Legislature will have their hands full next year. We need to bring about dramatic and substantial spending and budgetary reforms.
First, Senate Republicans propose and support an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to limit state spending to no more than 99 percent of state revenue. Secondly, Senate Republicans propose requiring a two-thirds supermajority vote of both houses of the Legislature to authorize new state debt. Next, we propose a systematic process wherein every program funded by state government will be sunset (de-authorized) by a date certain unless the governor and Legislature take action to reinstate it.
Beyond real budget reform and putting an end to Governor Culver’s property tax increases, we must get serious about private sector job creation. The best and only real long-term solution is to streamline government and substantially grow our economy and increase job creation.
Responsible budgeting, lower property taxes and more private sector jobs for Iowans. That is the Senate Republican vision for a more prosperous Iowa future.