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Maintaining Iowa’s priorities in a national recession

February 19, 2009
State Sen. Tom Rielly (D-Oskaloosa)

The deepening national recession puts a strain on the budgets of Iowa middle-class families.

That's why I support bipartisan efforts in the Iowa Legislature to help create more good-paying jobs, stand up for the priorities of middle-class families, and be fiscally responsible. It's also why I'm listening to your comments and suggestions for balancing the state budget without raising taxes.

Earlier this week, a national expert visited the Statehouse to describe challenges facing Iowa families and the Legislature during these tough economic times.

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State Se. Tom Rielly

Nick Johnson, State Fiscal Policy Project Director for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, talked with legislators about Iowa's fiscal situation, how it compares to other states, and the federal economic recovery package under consideration in Congress.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

46 states are facing fiscal stress in the current fiscal year.

State budget troubles are worsening because of declining state income. Nationally, last year's revenues were flat and are now falling dramatically.

Budget shortfalls are already projected in 41 states for the upcoming fiscal year.

Johnson urged lawmakers to look at all spending in response to state budget problems. Some cuts in state spending-especially the safety net, infrastructure and other essential government services-can harm Iowans and their economy, he said, adding that certain cuts could actually lengthen and deepen the recession.

Johnson suggested we consider three principles when making budget decisions:

Don't rule things out too soon. Keep a wide range of solutions on the table as long as possible.

Put federal funds to work as soon as possible.

Once short-term needs are addressed, immediately think about long-term growth.

For more information, go the website for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities at

Your input can improve Iowa government

Have ideas to improve Iowa government? Let me know by posting your suggestions at

You can also contact me directly with your ideas, concerns and questions. Just call me during the week at the Senate, 515-281-3371. On weekends, call me at home at 641-673-0359. E-mail me at

Additional information This is a legislative column by Senator Tom Rielly, representing Iowa, Poweshiek, and Keokuk counties, and portions of Mahaska and Tama counties.

To contact Senator Rielly during the week, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. On weekends he can be reached at home at 641-673-0359. E-mail him at

Senator Tom Rielly is chair of the Transportation Committee. He also serves on the Agriculture, Commerce, Economic Growth, Environment & Energy Independence, and Local Government committees.



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