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January 28th, 2010

Culver Keeps on Spending

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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Culver SmileCulver Administration: Just like every other year, the Governor’s budget recommendation is balanced.

True, but last year’s budget was supposedly balanced, too. Governor Culver was forced to make two rounds of cuts to actually balance the budget. One of the cuts was a reckless 10% across-the-board cut that will force local government and school district to raise property taxes. The real question that should be on people’s minds is whether or not Culver will be forced to make changes throughout FY 2011 like he had to do in FY 2010.

Governor Culver’s budget is also based on the assumption that that $340 million can be saved by reorganizing state government. The Des Moines Register reported yesterday that the current restructuring bill making its way through the legislature would only save the state $43 million in FY 2011. If Culver’s budget is off by $300 million, it could trigger more cuts to education or make it impossible for Culver to fulfill his pledge to fully fund two percent allowable growth for K-12 education.

Culver Administration: The FY 2011 budget is a smaller budget than when the Governor took office (FY07: $5.384 billion; FY11: $5.320 billion)

While the Culver administration claims that the FY 2011 budget is $5.320 billion, it actually spends $5.707 billion when you add the $387 million in one-time money. Also, while Culver is bragging that his FY 2011 budget is less than the FY 2007 budget, his FY 2008 budget was $5.888 billion, the FY 2009 budget was $6.095 billion, and his proposed budget last year in the middle of the world-wide recession was a whopping $6.211 billion. But, of course, Culver still blames the state’s economic troubles on the recession alone and not his out of control spending.

Culver Administration: The FY 2011 budget provides for a surplus of $382 million.

The definition of surplus is a quantity or amount over and above what is needed or used. The $382 million surplus Culver brags about is really just the ending balance. The $382 million ending balance is $100 million less than what Culver proposed in last year’s budget.

Culver Administration: The FY 2011 budget will maintain our state’s AAA bond rating.

Governor Culver likes to brag about the state’s AAA bond rating. But let’s not forget that Enron was considered to be an investment grade bond just days before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Culver Administration: The FY 2011 budget does not raise taxes and protects key priority areas.

Governor Culver’s budget doesn’t raise taxes unless you own property. The budget cuts that Governor made last year have already forced the hands of local governments to in increase property taxes.

House Republicans sent out a briefing paper on the Governor’s budget late yesterday. That information is below.

Does the Governor’s Budget Raise Taxes?

Yes. The Governor claims to fund 2 percent allowable growth at $348 million. This is $196 million from the general fund, $100 million from the Cash Reserve Fund and $48 million from unspent stimulus. LSA estimates that 2 percent will cost $514 million in FY 11. Therefore, he underfunds the 2 percent by $170 million. Since the spending authority remains, the $170 million can be made up with in property tax hikes. The Governor also proposes other property tax increases by funding the property tax credits below last year’s level and funding the State Patrol out of the Road Use Tax Fund. Both will increase property taxes.

How much is the reorganization savings and is it real?

Unclear. The Governor plugs in $341 million in reorganization savings. Some of the things (IT consolidation, reducing the fleet, eliminating phantom employees) were House Republican ideas from last year. Some of the ideas like increasing unclaimed property and federal grants appear to be dubious at best. Also, $50 million of the savings is for shifting the State Patrol into the RUTF and that is unlikely to happen.

Photo by Dave Davidson

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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