DES MOINES, Iowa -- There's a problem at the Iowa State Capitol, "Simply put this is a spending problem," said Republican State Senator Charles Schneider. What Senator Schneider says was once a $927 million surplus at the end of fiscal year 2013, has run dry.
It has forced the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss a bill proposing cuts of $52 million in spending before the end of this fiscal year in July. "That's not political spin that's just math and at the end of the day tax payers expect us to balance the budget," Schneider said.
The discussion seemed very political as yes votes to pass it to the Senate floor came from all thirteen Republicans with all eight Senate democrats voting no. The bill included $19 million in cuts to the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. It also includes nearly $10 million in cuts to the Department of Human Services despite hefty mid-year cuts from the same organizations a year ago. Democrats like Senator Nate Boulton are fed up. "The real problem, tax credit exemptions and giveaways to large corporations have over extended Iowa's budget and now we are cutting things we value most as Iowans to make ends meet. That is not going to deliver Iowa's future," said Boulton.
No cuts will be made to K-12 education or the state medicaid. Iowa State Patrol troopers are protected but democrats are worried that these cuts offer little direction and leave Iowans vulnerable with nothing else off limits. Boulton said, "Last year children lost access to hearing aids because of the cuts in public health, yet we do not see any protections for anything here. So if we go through the process we have to know what it means, we have to know what these cuts mean before passing it along."
While Governor Kim Reynolds proposed a $35 million spending cut Senator Schneider and those in favor say the $52 million allows a buffer that will prevent another chopping block down the road. "When revenues come in lower than what were originally projected we are required to make cuts and just like any family would sit and think about their spending if there were a job loss, we have to take that same approach as legislators," said Schneider.
Despite the large cuts slated for DHS, Senator Schneider said it should not impact child protective services where workers visit homes to make child welfare checks. The bill now moves to the Senate where it could be voted on early next week.