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Senate Democrats offer bold budget reform to preserve Iowans’ priorities, address Governor’s concerns

DES MOINES ñ In an effort to break the budget gridlock at the Iowa Capitol, two Senate Democratic leaders offered a bold budget reform today designed to address the budgetmaking concerns of Governor Branstad and preserve the key priorities of Iowans. |DES MOINES ñ In an effort to break the budget gridlock at the Iowa Capitol, two Senate Democratic leaders offered a bold budget reform today designed to address the budgetmaking concerns of Governor Branstad and preserve the key priorities of Iowans.
“We are ready to work with Governor Branstad and Republican legislators on meaningful budget reforms that will shake up the budget-making process,” said Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal. “At the same time, Democrats will protect the key priorities of Iowans, including the creation of quality jobs, expanding opportunities for Iowa students, and expanding access to affordable health care while balancing the state budget without raising taxes.”

Senate Appropriations Chair Bob Dvorsky added: “We’ll meet the Governor in the middle. We won’t give the Governor a two-year blank check without any public accountability. We haven’t forgotten that the Wall Street meltdown was caused by Boards of Directors who gave a blank check to their CEOs.”

The budget reform compromise calls for the Legislature to approve a full budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY12, which runs from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012) and a 50 percent budget for the following fiscal year (FY13, which runs from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013). Under this plan, the Legislature would take action during the 2012 session to determine the final, appropriate funding level for the FY13 budget.

“These new reforms will save taxpayers’ money and improve services,” Dvorsky said. “Our constituents and other fiscal watchdogs support these reforms that guard against unnecessary spending.”

“The ultimate goal is to produce the best results possible for all Iowans. That’s why we support budget reform,” Gronstal said. “In contrast, the Governor’s demands for a two-year budget focus on arcane process changes while failing to consider the negative impacts on middle-class families, Iowa schoolchildren and educators, and the state’s job-creation efforts.”
The new reform requires every government program be justified each fiscal year, instead of being on autopilot and simply basing budgeting decisions on the previous year’s funding level. In addition to saving money and improving services, the new reform will:

· Increase restraint by the Governor and state department directors in proposing new budgets and new programs.
· Increase oversight by providing additional opportunities for the dozens of new department directors in the Branstad Administration and legislators ñ including 38 new legislators — to examine the state budget in detail.

(Video: http://www.senate.iowa.gov/democrats/?p=9804)

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