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Rep. Upmeyer: Budgeting principles protecting taxpayers

CLEAR LAKE – Representative Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake says that budgeting principles of Republicans are protecting the taxpayers.

According to a newsletter from Linda Upmeyer:

Your state government: Governor Terry Branstad, Rep. Linda Upmeyer, and Senator Amanda Ragan
Your state government: Governor Terry Branstad, Rep. Linda Upmeyer, and Senator Amanda Ragan

Farmers are spending hours in their fields, the leaves are changing colors, and the temperature outside continues to cool. Fall is certainly here!

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met this week to issue their latest revenue projections for the current budget year as well as the next. The REC is made up of three members, one from the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, one from the State Department of Management, and David Underwood (of Clear Lake) who represents the private sector. The REC reviews several economic indicators like the agricultural economy, the labor market, consumer spending, and many other factors. After reviewing this data, the REC projects how much revenue the state stands to collect in tax revenue.

At their meeting, the REC made revenue projections for the current fiscal year (FY17), which began on July 1, and the next fiscal year (FY18) which begins July 1, 2017. The REC revised the FY17 forecast down by $71.9 million compared to the March estimate, projecting that the state will collect $7.308 billion this fiscal year. FY18 also saw a reduction, though slightly smaller, of $52 million, projecting total revenue of $7.607 billion next year.

The REC largely attributed the reductions to the weakening state of the agricultural economy. Commodity prices are significantly lower than the cost of production, and that has caused many farmers and small businesses to reevaluate their spending plans for the coming year. This has caused a ripple effect in many other industries that rely on the agricultural economy to perform well.

Going forward, we will need to find ways to make our REC forecasts more reliable. For the past few years, the REC has made revenue estimates that end up being revised upwards or downwards quite dramatically. The legislature needs data that we can depend on when putting together the state’s budget to guard against dramatic cuts when the economy isn’t growing as fast as projected.

Fortunately, Iowa has been able to weather unreliable budget forecasts over the last few years thanks to House Republicans’ responsible budgeting principles. Over the last six years, House Republicans have built the state budget using four common sense principles:
We will spend less than the state collects
We won’t use one-time funding to pay for ongoing needs
We won’t balance the budget by intentionally underfunding state programs
We will return unused tax dollars back to the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa
These are the same budgeting principles that Iowa families and businesses use every day. Government should be no different.

Had the Legislature spent to the levels that Democrats were pushing last session, the state would be in a very difficult financial position. We all remember the days of Chet Culver where state spending wasn’t in line with ongoing revenue for a number of years. Those days culminated with across-the-board cuts to education and many services that Iowans count.

House Republicans’ responsible approach to budgeting has allowed us to invest in Iowa’s priorities. We’ve been able to put more money into our K-12 schools, Regent universities, and community colleges. We’ve invested in public safety, courts, and healthcare. We’ve also been able to return more money back to the pockets of Iowa’s taxpayers through a handful of tax relief packages over the last six years.

House Republicans will continue a path of responsible budgeting so that small businesses have certainty and families can keep more of their hard-earned money.

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