We continue to adjust state spending and boost job-creation efforts in response to the deepening national recession.
Although economic conditions have nosedived in recent months, I am more committed than ever to balancing the state budget without raising taxes and to increasing investment to create good-paying jobs across Iowa.
This legislative session, we've already responded to the national recession by cutting the current year's General Fund budget by approximately $30 million. Democrats and Republicans are now working on an overall budget that cuts an additional $133.9 million from the Governor's budget proposal.
There is plenty of evidence that national economic conditions are getting worse. The state's Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) is scheduled to meet this week to review Iowa's revenue forecast. If, as expected, the REC lowers its estimate for the state's projected revenues, the Legislature will respond and make further budget cuts.
This year, we are tightening our belts, but we'll work hard to fulfill the promises we've made on health care, education, jobs and renewable energy. Fiscal responsibility will help us keep our promises.
Federal stimulus package to aid Iowa's transportation system
The Iowa Transportation Commission recently approved an additional $26 million for statewide transit programs as a result of federal stimulus funding coming to Iowa. The money will be used for facility improvement projects and the purchase of much-needed replacement and high-priority expansion vehicles.
In addition, $238.2 million in federal stimulus funding will go to the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) for federal highway funding, which will allow us to pursue new highway projects and move forward more quickly on scheduled projects. For more information on how federal recovery dollars are helping to improve Iowa's transportation system, go to www.iowadot.gov/recovery.
Where is the federal recovery money in Iowa?
Iowa is expected to receive approximately $1.9 billion in one-time, direct assistance as part of the new federal stimulus package. You can see how that money is being used at http://recovery.iowa.gov. The website helps Iowans learn about the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and also track state efforts to make the best use of Iowa's funds, providing accountability and transparency.
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:
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.