SIOUX CITY – With the start of the new fiscal year today, Gov. Chet Culver should make a resolution to control his excessive spending habits that have already pushed the state to the brink of an illegal deficit, Republican Bob Vander Plaats said.
“The Legislative Services Agency reported today that state revenues are $123 million less than the estimate the budget was based on. That may mean the state is deficit spending or Chet Culver’s budget director may be correct in saying he can transfer enough funds to ‘manage’ the estimated $58 million shortfall. Either way, Chet Culver’s irresponsible, out-of-control spending have left state government with a deficit or just pushed it to the very edge. He needs to make a resolution to change his ways,” Vander Plaats said today. “I realize that traditional New Year’s resolutions come on January 1, but the fiscal year starts today. Besides, because of Chet Culver’s irresponsible handling of the budget, we can’t afford to wait another minute for him to start a healthier fiscal regimen.”
He added, “It takes 21 days to develop a new habit so if the governor starts today and works very hard, he’ll be able to resist his big-spending ways by the time his staff starts to work next month on the next fiscal year budget. He might even work up the ability to say no to legislative Democrats who only want to increase spending, taxes and the size of state government.”
Culver said last week that the state budget “should be all right,” despite concerns by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency that slumping state revenues can’t keep pace with sharp spending increases approved by Culver and the Democrat-controlled legislature since the Democrat took office in January 2007.
While, the state’s largest union agreed to a zero-percent pay raise this year, merit raises and “step increases” that move employees closer to the top pay in their grade mean state workers still will receive an average 4.5 percent raise in the coming fiscal year.
“That adds $121 million to the overspending that’s already going on,” Vander Plaats said today. “I respect state workers but we shouldn’t be giving raises when the private sector is cutting back and state government is faced with a $903 million shortfall this year because of the governor’s fiscal mismanagement.”
Culver has also said he hopes Iowa’s economy will rebound faster than other states so the state can work its way out of the financial hole he’s dug. However, a published report on Monday indicates economists expect Iowa’s employment and revenue to remain down for the next two years.
“New Year’s is a time when people often face the cold, hard facts, reflect on their shortcomings and resolve to take action and make constructive changes,” Vander Plaats said. “I’d encourage Chet Culver to do exactly that today on the fiscal new year and set the state budget back on the right course.”