Republican gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts filed a bill yesterday in the Iowa House of Representatives that calls for amending the Iowa Constitution to limit state government spending. The constitutional amendment would limit state spending to 99% of projected revenue. Over the past several months of his gubernatorial campaign, Roberts has pledged to work toward amending the Iowa Constitution to put the spending limitation in place. Filing the bill in the Iowa House marks the first step in the amendment process.
Roberts filed the bill after Governor Culver announced his budget for fiscal year 2011. Culver’s budget once again calls for state government to spend more money than it will receive in projected state revenue. One way Culver plans to make up for the budget gap is to spend roughly 50%—or $200 million—of the state’s “cash reserve” fund. Roberts believes Culver is spending too much money from the state’s cash reserves, and he says the spending gap in Culver’s 2011 budget illustrates the need for a constitutional amendment to limit state spending.
“Iowans are concerned about Governor Culver’s out-of-control spending and reckless budget practices,” said Roberts, a five-term State Representative from Carroll. “They have good reason to be concerned. It is time for Iowans to take back control of their tax dollars.”
The state currently has a statute that is supposed to limit state spending to 99% of projected revenue. Unfortunately, Governor Culver has simply ignored the law in recent years. Taking the spending limit from a statutory law to a constitutional one would prohibit a governor from ignoring the limit.
“Iowans should demand that their governor exercise fiscal discipline,” said Roberts, an Assistant Minority Leader in the Iowa House of Representatives. “The failure of Governor Culver to exercise such fiscal discipline is causing budget disasters for the state. To avoid this in the future, we need to impose fiscal discipline upon state lawmakers through a constitutional amendment.”
Before the spending limit becomes constitutional law, the Iowa Legislature would have to approve Roberts’s bill during both the current legislative session and the 2011 session. Then, Iowans would have to vote to approve the amendment as well. Until the Iowa Constitution is amended, however, Roberts pledges to abide by the current statutory spending limit if elected governor.
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