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Emergency Spending Cuts Now Up to Governor, Agencies Make Plans

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Governor Branstad.

DES MOINES, Iowa–It’s now up to Governor Terry Branstad to sign off on $88 million in emergency spending cuts for state government. The Republican-led house passed the package Monday night. The senate, also led by Republicans, already approved the package Thursday.

The cuts became necessary after state revenues no longer kept up with the $7.2 billion budget legislators approved last year. Republicans largely blame the slumping agriculture economy. Democrats also point to a previously-approved commercial property tax cut and tax credits that limited revenue growth.

No matter the partisan reasons, the reality is state departments, included public safety, corrections, education and the courts have to make plans to slash spending before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. Overall, the cuts represent about one-percent of the state budget, although that is a bit misleading, since only some departments will face cuts and they only have five months to implement them.

Among the departments and agencies that have announced cost-savings plans:

Iowa State University: will freeze positions, delay renovations, reduce spending on professional development, equipment and travel (Public universities need to cut $18 million combined.)

DMACC: freeze positions (Loses $500,000, which is part of the $3 million overall cut to community colleges)

Judicial branch: hold vacant positions open, mandate one-day furlough for most employees ($3 million in cuts overall)

Department of Public Safety: no plans announced yet ($1 million in cuts)

Department of Education: no plans announced yet ($4.5 million in cuts)

Department of Corrections: no plans announced yet ($5.5 million in cuts)