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We learned this week that Gov. Reynolds won’t call a special session but still has to borrow millions more to cover the state budget shortfall. It’s the third time that Reynolds and GOP lawmakers have had to make budget cuts or borrow money to balance the state budget this year.
However, lots of Iowans – and lawmakers – are skeptical how Reynolds was able to avoid a special session because the numbers just don’t add up. The state was $104 million short on June 30, but only $14.6 million short when the state officially closes the books on Sept. 30.
Taxpayers deserve to know whether Gov. Reynolds and Republicans cooked the state’s books to close the fiscal year and avoid a special session. So we’ll be asking a lot of questions in the next few months to hold them accountable and make sure the state budget is being managed responsibly.
The state budget crisis wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be solved anytime soon either. Over the last four years, Reynolds and the GOP have turned a $927 million surplus into a $259 million deficit.
The budget troubles are largely the result of uncapped and automatic tax credits, and corporate tax breaks that have increased since Gov. Reynolds took office and now cost taxpayers more than $500 million annually. Those giveaways have not produced the economic growth Republicans promised and, instead, have slowed the state’s economy.
Instead of being honest with Iowans about the state’s budget woes, the GOP is pointing the finger at everyone else – agricultural producers and the state’s non-partisan budget experts – rather than correct their own mistakes.
Iowans deserve more than excuses and scapegoats for the budget problems created by Republicans. Reynolds and the GOP need to figure out how to manage the state’s checkbook budget like the average family.
So far this year, they’ve simply borrowed money on the state’s credit card and left Iowa families with the bill. Students are now paying higher tuition. Fewer at-risk kids will attend preschool this year. Nursing home inspections and elder abuse claims are going without investigation. Homeowners are paying higher property taxes.
Unfortunately, the state budget doesn’t look much better next year. We already know the GOP will have to pay back the $144 million they borrowed within the next two years. That’s three times higher than the amount of new money all our public schools got last year.
Iowa would not be faced with a budget deficit today if the GOP had spent more effort managing the state budget, rather than pushing the agenda of their donors and outside special interests. They’ve abandoned their own fiscal principles for four years straight and have done it at the expense of Iowans.
It’s time to work together to restore fiscal discipline to the state’s budget-making process and ensure Iowans no longer have to pay for the GOP’s borrowing spree. Taxpayers can’t afford it. The state budget needs to be re-balanced to prioritize people before corporate welfare, and a skilled workforce over top-down economics.
Rep. Hall is a Democrat from Sioux City and serves the 13th House District.