Students from Iowa’s three regent universities will descend upon the Iowa Capitol today for Regent’s Lobby Day. Regent’s Day is an annual event where students come to the capitol to lobby their legislators, usually for increased funding.
A lot has been made about Iowa State University emailing their students to encourage them to lobby against budget cuts, while expending money to transport and feed the students who make the trip. The money to pay for those things comes from student fees, but where Iowa State deserves criticism is in the content of their email.
ISU Email to Syudents
The House is proposing a 10% cut to the Regents universities (the governor proposed 4%). The Legislative Service Agency, a non-partisan organization that serves the Iowa legislature, keeps track of the income and expenditures for the state, and has found that there is no budget crisis in Iowa. In fact, we have run a surplus in 2010 and one is expected for 2011.
The Regents universities have already suffered a 20% reduction in funding over the past few years. That shortfall was somewhat replaced with federal stimulus funds but those funds are ending this year, so the proposed 10% cut will be especially devastating.
No budget crisis in Iowa? Way to buy into the Democratic talking points ISU.
For the past few years, state government has balanced its books with huge infusions of one-time money for the federal government. During that time, the state has also raided money from various special use funds. Making matters worse, Governor Culver and the Democrats funded 89 different programs with one-time dollars totaling $770 million of spending that came from outside the general fund.
So, while the state’s checkbook was balanced, it was only that way because of one-time dollars that are not available anymore. The email sent to students fails to accurately portray Iowa’s financial situation by ignoring the absence of one-time funds. Those budget numbers will only get worse if the legislature compromises on allowable growth for K-12 education, and if Governor Branstad and Republican are unable to renegotiate the labor deal Culver agreed to on his way out of office.
Maybe instead of lobbying the legislators, these students should instead spend a little time with State Auditor Dave Vaudt so they actually understand the fiscal mess Branstad inherited from Culver.
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