By Speaker Kraig Paulsen
On Thursday, House Republicans alongside Senate Republicans and the Governor’s office moved forward by introducing an alternative, fiscally responsible budget plan. Traditionally, the Legislature passes a budget in several separate bills, which House Republicans have done this year. However, currently we find ourselves at an impasse with Senate Democrats on a budget agreement. Because of this, we’re continuing to work to find ways to break the stalemate before the end of the fiscal year. Iowans expect us to do our job and take action—Republicans will not wait around for government to shut down.
If you’ll remember, Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate released budget targets in February, at which point $147 million separated us. After an entire session of joint budget meetings, we combed through each budget, line by line, working to identify and resolve our differences. We reached agreement with the Governor and made an honest effort to close the gap by moving $101 million toward the Democrats’ position. Despite our move, our plan shrinks government and reduces spending to 95% of total available revenue. Conversely, the Democrat plan is to spend more money than the state is taking in in revenue.
Our efforts to this point have been rejected and Democrats have walked away from negotiations.
Accordingly, our latest proposal contains legislation that has already been debated with minor modifications; it simply ties multiple budget bills into one. While it may not be our preferred method on how to proceed, the time for action is now. The alternative bill holds true to our principal of not spending more than $5.99 billion, not spending more than the state is taking in, and keeping our commitment to a fiscally responsible, sustainable budget.
The bill also accounts for the two-year budget that Governor Branstad has requested. Even though currently there is no revenue estimate for Fiscal Year 2013, our proposed spending in the next fiscal year is EVEN LESS than our 2012 budget. That being said, our budget still provides for priority services in the areas of education, health and human services and public safety.
This proposal reinforces the principled stand we’ve taken towards government spending and budgets. It maintains our pledge to spend less than the state takes in – abandoning the past practice of using one-time money for ongoing expenditures. It gives taxpayers a seat at the table and Democrats a reasonable plan that they can support.
The House and Senate Republicans along with the Governor have agreed to this budget that meets the needs of Iowans and brings fiscal responsibility back to the statehouse.
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