By Representative Bob Kressig
As Iowa’s economy continues to recover and gain strength, non-partisan budget experts boosted state revenue projections this week showing the state will have a $480 million surplus at the end of the year with an additional $434 million in the state’s savings accounts.
The non-partisan experts that make up the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) held their quarterly meeting and increased their revenue estimate for fiscal year (FY) 2011 from (a negative) -3.1% to an increase of 2.2%, boosting the state’s surplus to $480 million. The REC panel was pleased that Iowa continues to show strength in its recovery.
Iowa began showing signs of an economic recovery earlier this year when the 2010 fiscal year ended with an unanticipated surplus of $235 million and another $419 million in the state’s reserve funds.
Last session, we made tough choices and reduced spending to keep the state budget balanced without raising taxes. In addition to cutting their own pay and saving taxpayers over $300 million by reorganizing government, legislators also focused on growing Iowa’s economy through support for small businesses and renewable energy.
As Iowa’s economy continues to recover, it’s essential to keep focused on the unique strengths of Iowa to grow our economy and create jobs, keep the state budget balanced, and help middle class families.
First, Iowa must continue to focus on small businesses and renewable energy to grow our economy. I will help entrepreneurs open businesses and help small business owners expand to create jobs. Already a world leader in renewable energy with 8,700 "green" jobs, I will help the renewable energy industry expand and create high-tech manufacturing jobs in communities across Iowa.
I will also help out of work Iowans access community college training in key industries to land a good paying job, ensure companies that receive state assistance create the jobs they promised, and prosecute CEO’s and corporations that hire undocumented aliens or misclassify workers to avoid paying taxes.
Second, I will keep the state’s fiscal house in order and balance the budget without raising taxes. I will continue efforts to make government more efficient, refill the state’s savings accounts within two years, review corporate tax credits to ensure they create the jobs promised, and establish a toll-free line to report wasteful government spending.
Finally, I will work to build a stronger middle class. While we’ve made progress in expanding health care to all Iowa children and expanding preschool to more four year olds so they enter school ready to learn, there is more work to do. I will raise standards so our kids have the skills to succeed in the competitive job market, ensure state funding goes directly to the classroom, and work to keep quality teachers in the classroom. I will also ensure every Iowa child has access to health care, keep health coverage affordable, hold insurance companies accountable, and reduce health care costs by expanding wellness initiatives.