Work on the budget is now in full swing with Iowans expecting us to spend their money in a responsible manner. Unfortunately, the bills proposed and passed have not demonstrated a desire to reduce spending or even hold it in check. From a historic prospective, state spending has grown from $4.3 billion annually to recently proposed $7.3 billion in the last ten years.
Budget proposals indicate legislators could be voting on $200 million in new spending in a budget that is projected to exceed $7 billion. I have a hard time supporting an increase in spending when such plans will force us to dip into our surplus. This is troublesome considering the surplus was nearly one billion dollars just a few years ago.
I have been a consistent no vote on budgets in recent years because they spent more than the State received in revenues. This increase in spending will result in the surplus being spent down to nearly $250 million at the end of fiscal year 2016.
For years, I have signaled this trend will create significant problems for our state. By dipping into the surplus to fund ongoing programs, this source of money will eventually be depleted.
Going into this legislative session, legislators were aware of the budget challenges we faced and instead of cutting back we will soon be voting on spending even more. I have always been mindful that it is the people of Iowa’s money we are tasked to spend in a responsible manner and have never taken this responsibility lightly. We need to follow sound budgeting principles on a regular basis and tighten our belts.