When the legislative session convened in January, the State of Iowa faced a $700 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year. Fixing this shortfall will require a shift in our fiscal thinking. Just as many of us are forced to make tough budget decisions at home, we need do the same in state government. We must do a better job of prioritizing our public spending on the essential functions of government.
With this shift in thinking, the House has proposed two measures to reduce our budget: The first is to reduce spending by $51.8 million in the current fiscal year, and to make additional cuts over the next two years totaling $485 million.
We must make these difficult cuts because tax increases are not an option. Over the past several years, government has spent too much and saved too little. Iowa’s economy and Iowa’s taxpayers simply cannot afford to shoulder any additional burden.
For the upcoming fiscal year, recent estimates from the non-partisan Revenue Estimating Conference indicate $6.031 billion in revenue to the General Fund. With this figure in mind, we are working to limit state expenditures to 98 percent of estimated revenue. This will set the fiscal year 2012 state budget at just under $6 billion.
Taxpayers can take comfort in knowing that this budget will actually spend $347 million less than the current year’s budget.
It is important to reassure Iowans that this proposed budget fully funds our commitment to education and does not shift the burden to property taxpayers. We will also end the recent practice of using one-time money for ongoing state expenditures.
Most importantly, these budget targets will save us from spending more than the state takes in, and prioritizes essential areas like education, public safety, and mental health. These budget targets will help us build a budget that is honest, transparent and assures the sustainability of essential services.
I will continue to work for a budget worthy of the hardworking families of Iowa.