Governor Branstad defends his starvation budget with a simple, sparse message: Iowa spends more than it takes in. During stops across the state this week, the Governor will likely repeat this claim many, many, many times. Here’s the question reporters and Iowans should ask in response: “Where’s the proof?”
“Fiscal crisis” is pretty much the Governor’s only defense for the deep cuts to education, job creation, and other state services that Iowans depend on. It is his go-to answer when he is asked why Iowa should freeze state support for local schools, slash help for community college and university students, close local workforce offices and cut job creation efforts.
At his last Statehouse news conference in May, GovernorBranstad claimed four separate times that the state of Iowa spends more than it takes in.1
The Governor is certainly on message, but what if that message is false?
It is past time for the Governor to produce convincing evidence supporting his position. A steady stream of facts is proving him wrong. These facts flow from his own Iowa Department of Revenue,2 from the non-partisan Legislative Services Bureau,3 from the Treasurer of the State of Iowa,4 and from the nation’s top credit rating agencies. 5
Here’s what the facts currently on the public record show. Iowa’s recovering economy is increasing state revenues, so much so that Iowa’s reserve funds are now full at $600 million. That means the equivalent of 10% of the entire state budget is sitting in our savings accounts. In addition, the fiscal year ending on June 30, is expected end with a positive balance of $400 million more.
Claiming Iowa is in fiscal crisis is the Governor’s most frequent and most convincing argument for severe budget cuts. If that claim isn’t true, then there is no excuse for harsh Republican budget cuts that will hurt Iowa students, Iowa workers, and Iowa’s small businesses and communities.
Senator Bob Dvorsky