BRANDSTAD: NO DEALS WITH DEMOCRATS ON TWO-YEAR BUDGET DEMAND
10:16 AM, Apr 18, 2011 | by William Petroski |
Gov. Terry Branstad said today he isn’t willing to cut any deals with Democratic lawmakers over his demand that the Iowa Legislature approve a two-year state government budget instead of the one-year spending package that’s been used annually for the past 28 years.
The Republican governor’s stance brought criticism from a Democratic lawmaker who accused him of budgetary tactics that will hurt Iowa’s public schools. The state of Iowa has used one-year state budgets approved by lawmakers since they decided in 1983 to drop the practice of employing two-year budgets.
As lawmakers near the end of their 2011 session, the Republican chief executive said he’s aware there has been a tendency in the past among Iowa’s elected officials to negotiate and cut corners when brokering spending bills. But when asked today if he would be willing to accept anything less than a fully-funded two-year state budget, Branstad replied, “No.”
Adopting one-year spending plans with budget gimmicks such as underfunding some government programs and using one-time federal grants for other programs led the state into budget troubles in the past, Branstad said. He vowed that won’t happen again, including the state budget for education spending.
“It is not negotiable,” Branstad said. “I am not going to make a deal one for another.”
The state of Iowa already has a two-year contract with public employees under an agreement between former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Branstad noted. The state doesn’t have the money to pay for it, he said, adding he’s still willing to see state public employee contracts renegotiated to avert more budget cuts.
“We are going to make the tough decisions up front,” Branstad said. He promised to fully fund the state’s school aid package and to not push school funding problems on to people who pay property taxes. Culver’s failure to handle this matter properly is one of the reasons why voters replaced him, Branstad said.
Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, a member of the Iowa Senate Education Committee, issued a statement today criticizing Branstad for engaging in budgetary “bait and switch” tactics that he contends could starve Iowa’s public schools for the next two years.
“It is true that he campaigned for two-year budgets, but I never heard candidate Branstad tell Iowans that by a two-year budget, he meant two years of firing teachers, increasing class sizes, and closing local school buildings,” Bowman said. “Yet that is exactly what he is demanding. Gov. Branstad and the Republicans insist on breaking 40 years of bipartisan support for local schools. They want to give local K-12 schools no new state aid next year, and then lock the state into doing it again the second year!
“At a time when prices for gasoline, food and other essentials are rising, no Iowa family would plan for the future by creating a two-year, flat-lined household budget. It’s fiscal insanity for families and it’s the same for our state budget and our priorities,” Bowman said.