From Rep. Linda Upmeyer –
While the calendar may show spring has arrived, the cold temperatures across the state certainly make it feel like winter is still upon us.
The House kicked off the budget process this week by passing three budget bills to the Senate. My goal is to ensure we have a focused and efficient session, and passing three budget bills in week 10 of the session, demonstrates this priority. These appropriations bills are part of our overall Fiscal Year 2014 budget which is balanced, sustainable, and meets the priorities of Iowans.
The bills- HF 602- Transportation and Infrastructure Appropriations, HF 603- Administration & Regulation Appropriations, and HF 604- Education Appropriations- all align with the core principles we implemented in 2011. These principles have proven to put our state in a healthy budgetary position and restore fiscal order:
· We will not spend more than we take in;
· We will not use one-time revenue for ongoing expenses,
· We will not intentionally underfund programs simply to fix the problem down the road; and
· We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
The bills we passed to the Senate this week demonstrate our commitment to crafting a responsible budget that will create certainty and stability for taxpayers and employers across the state.
It is important to recall just two years ago, Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall. Today, due to hard-working Iowans, a great economy, and the smart budget planning laid out above, we have an ending balance of $688 million and our budget reserves are full. This is a significant departure from how government operated in the past where ever dollar was spent, even some we didn’t have.
Our total Fiscal Year 2014 budget spends 98 cents for every dollar of state revenue and provides a modest increase of three percent over last year. In contrast, the Majority party in the Senate has offered a budget that increases spending by nearly 11 percent or $1.05 for every dollar of state revenue, and spends $301.7 million more than what the state takes in.
While the Senate may feel compelled to spend more, we realize we must remain responsible and not place ourselves in a difficult financial position down the road. Just as every Iowa family balances their checkbook, state government must also stay within its means. We know anything less would jeopardize Iowa’s long-term economic health.
As we move through the budget process, Iowans should feel confident we will continue to abide by the core principles used to restore fiscal order in our state. I look forward to our continued discussion on passing an efficient state budget that meets Iowans’ priorities and lets you keep more your hard-earned dollars.