Yesterday, State Auditor Dave Vaudt confirmed what many of us already suspected – he’s not running for Governor. Instead, Vaudt will focus on getting re-elected to a third term as the taxpayers’ watchdog next November. Vaudt made his announcement following his briefing on the legislature’s adoptive budget at the State Capitol.
Vaudt’s decision was based on the need to make sure that Iowans continue to have a strong, independent voice that communicates the truth about our state’s finances. Vaudt told The Iowa Republican, “I’m really concerned because of the serious financial condition that we are getting into, and we can’t afford to have them[Democrats] out there discrediting the important information that I’m relaying to taxpayers.”
While Vaudt will not be traveling the state running for Governor, he did indicate that he will be going around the state talking to Iowans about the dire condition of our state’s finances. That is good news for Iowa Republicans. By ruling out a gubernatorial run, Vaudt can now turn his focus to getting both Republican activists and legislative candidates up to speed on the status of the state budget.
Vaudt is also hoping that a new YouTube video he created will help educate Iowans on the dire financial situation that the state is facing.
Vaudt describes the state’s budget woes with one word: “Scary”
According to Vaudt, the state government will actually spend more money in the FY 2010 budget than they did in FY 2009 budget. For FY 2010 the state will spend $5.8 billion out of the general fund, $529 million from the federal stimulus money, and $317 million from the cash reserve, Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure fund, and the Senior Living Trust fund. That means that state government will spend $6.6 billion in the next fiscal year, the largest amount in our state’s history.
The $6.6 billion the state will spend in FY 2010 is a 1% increase in spending over the FY 2009 budget. Vaudt said, “For all the talk about budget cuts, it didn’t pan out to be an overall reduction in what the state will spend in the next fiscal year.” Vaudt indicated that a lot of departments and state agencies have had to deal with 10% budget cuts and noted that his own budget has been cut by 27%. He said that the resources which were cut in some departments have been redistributed to others, like education and health care.
With Governor Culver and the Democrats spending more money than ever, Vaudt wonders what it will be like when they don’t have stimulus money to bail them out. “If you have to make 10% cuts in departments and agencies when you have more resources than you normally would due to the federal stimulus, what are they going to do when we truly have to cut state spending?” Vaudt said.
That scenario is one which he believes the legislature and Governor Culver will have to address in the FY 2011 budget. Vaudt points out that, in FY 2011, ongoing state spending out-paces ongoing revenues by over $1 billion, and that holds true if the legislature and the Governor only increase Medicare and education spending at their locked in rate increases. In FY 2011 Iowa will also only have $200 million of the federal stimulus money remaining, so even with those funds, the legislature will have to find a way to deal with an $850 million short fall.
When asked if Iowa is headed towards a similar situation as California where they are being asked to approve a huge income tax increase, Vaudt said, “We are either going to see a large increase in taxes and fees, or a serious cut in the services that we are providing. It will probably be a combination of the two as Iowans will pay more and get less.”
Either way, Vaudt plans to make sure Iowans have a firm understanding of the state’s finances as the legislature and Governor Culver deal with the mess they have made.
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