Iowa’s budget is sound. When the Legislature left in April, this years - fiscal year 2009 - budget appropriated $6.133 billion, had an ending balance of $82 million and we have $620 million in our reserve funds that can be used for emergencies.
The fiscal year 2009 budget assumes net revenue growth will be 2.1%. A very conservative estimate, which is not only prudent in light of national economy, but falls in line with the actual revenue increases we have seen so far this fiscal year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.
Iowa’s constitution requires a balanced budget. The Legislature and the Governor approved a balanced budget. State government cannot operate without it. To suggest otherwise is just irresponsible.
The majority party in the Legislature has a responsibility to balance the budget and Democrats have not taken that responsibility lightly. Republican legislators irresponsibly sought to add another billion dollars to the size of the budget through amendments they offered over the last two years.
Even financial experts are recognizing our fiscal responsibility as Iowa's credit rating was just upgraded to "AAA." Stand and Poor’s report said: "Other credit factors are, in our view, the state's good fiscal management with a demonstrated willingness to restrain spending and make midyear corrections to maintain fiscal integrity; strong financial operations, supported by quarterly financial forecasts and rainy day reserves; good income levels; and very low debt burden."
It is shameful that Republican leaders are using fear tactics to scare Iowans into believing the state budget is in trouble when this is simply not true. They know it is not true but apparently do not care. Taking a page out of the National Republican playbook, they have decided that lying is a better campaign strategy than relying on their records.
Flood Assistance Provided
Iowa law grants a substantial amount of authority for the Governor and the Executive Council to provide assistance in event of natural disasters. The Executive Council has authorized $37 million to match federal funds to aid in the clean-up and for emergency assistance. These costs have been split between the fiscal year 2008 and 2009 budgets.
Even after considering the Executive Council expenditures, the fiscal year 2009 budget still has an ending balance of $60 million and the reserve funds remain full at $620 million.
Clearly, the State will need to provide funding to match federal funds, but this is not anticipated to come in just one budget year. Rebuilding from this historic natural disaster will take time. Over the next several year, the Legislature will be able to safely budget for these anticipated costs.
The Governor used his transfer authority, provided in State law, to reallocate $40 million within the budget to provide immediate resources for housing and small businesses. Using transfer authority does not jeopardize the state budget. What it does is bring immediate relief to those Iowans who were hardest hit by the flooding and tornadoes.
No amount of money will get these communities back to pre-disaster conditions tomorrow. Now is not the time for political posturing and fear mongering, it is time we work together to get the rebuilding plans in place.