Joint Budget Targets

House Republicans and Senate Democrats reached agreement this week on an overall general fund budget plan. Next year’s general fund budget will spend $6.9718 billion.

That represents 99.84 percent of on-going state revenue, staying true to the House GOP’s common sense principle of spending less than the state collects. This number also represents just 91.14 percent of the allowed amount under the state’s expenditure limitation law.

This will be the fourth consecutive year the state will spend less than it collects. This is in stark contrast to the preceding decade.

This budget is about the small business owner who struggles to keep their doors open and the farmer who feeds the world every day. It is about the folks in the middle, the parents who play by the rules and don’t ask for anything except a level playing field. It is about hardworking Iowans who look at their checkbooks and worry about paying the bills, about sending their kids to college and making ends meet.

The agreement complies with the budgeting principles the Iowa House has followed the past four years :

• We will spend less than the state collects;

• We will not use one-time money to fund ongoing needs;

• We will not make the budget appear balanced by intentionally underfunding programs; and

• We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.

Within the budget targets:

• funding is provided for the 4 percent increase in supplemental state aid for schools

• funding is provided the 2013 Education Reform agreement

• commitments relating to the 2013 property tax reform bill are maintained

• funding levels to ensure a second year of tuition freezes at Iowa’s three Regents universities are provided.

The agreement on joint budget targets between the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate is a first in recent legislative history. The last time there were joint budget targets between the two chambers was during the 80th General Assembly (2003-2004). At that time, both chambers were controlled by Republicans. This is just the latest example of how Iowans do things differently than they do in Washington, D.C.

Two Surveys Reveal Strengthening Iowa Economy

Site Selection Magazine ranked Iowa sixth in a list of states with the largest number of projects per capita in 2013. Iowa won the per-capita ranking with 104 projects overall. Qualifying projects have to have a minimum $1 million capital, at least 20,000 square feet of new construction or create at least 50 new jobs. Texas, Ohio and Illinois took the top three rankings based on total projects alone.

Meanwhile, the Creighton University index of nine Midwestern and Plains states dropped slightly in February, reflecting extremely cold weather that hurt winter sales. Iowa kept its lead in the region, as the state’s score reached a high of 64.5. Index scores above 50 indicate a state’s economy is expanding over the next few months. Iowa particularly benefits from manufacturing and agricultural equipment sales. The index surveys supply managers in a nine-state region.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

Home phone: 515-382-2352