A ‘balanced’ approach to a balanced budget

Guest Column
Tod Bowman
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

     Thank you all for your contacts, thoughts, questions and concerns, especially after this past week’s radical de-appropriation effort by the Senate Republicans. You all have spoken loud and clear about how these cuts would hurt Iowans. Cutting funds to essential services that taxpayers need is never well received, but the budget must be balanced. As the Legislature decides how best to distribute resources, it’s important that we examine how Iowa got into this budget mess, even as the stock market soars and unemployment is at historic lows.

     So, why are we in this situation? While the national economy is strong, Iowa’s revenues are relatively flat. As the result, our General Fund has less money than expected. That has required cuts, last session and again this year. Iowa’s General Fund dollars are generated roughly as follows: half from personal income taxes; one-third from sales taxes; the rest from a mix of corporate and other taxes.

     Middle-class wage stagnation and reckless tax credits by the Branstad and Reynolds administrations have stifled Iowa’s economic growth. Republican lawmakers have favored corporate, out-of-state tax giveaways over the interests of Iowans. Senate Republicans have proposed mid-year budget cuts that hit Iowans the hardest; they represent exactly the kind of failed economic policy that got us here in the first place.

     When businesses start up, relocate or expand, they won’t be attracted to Iowa if our state has constant budget mismanagement, an exodus of young talent, and a working population untrained for tomorrow’s jobs. Businesses want to move to a place that invests in a strong and healthy workforce, sets the highest standard for education in the country, and creates a quality of life that is second to none.

     Minimal revenue growth, tax credits that do little for working Iowans, and misplaced priorities have Iowa moving in the wrong direction if our goal is economic prosperity. The cuts proposed in Senate File 2117 will only set us farther back. I will continue to work with my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to manage our available dollars in a way that puts us on the right track and minimizes cuts to the services Iowans rely on.


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