DES MOINES – The insistence of Governor Chet Culver and his staff that state revenues went up in July, rather than down as the nonpartisan Legislative Service Agency reported, reflects a “bunker mentality” that could paralyze any efforts to fix Iowa’s mounting budget problems, Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats today.
“Chet Culver is trying to fool Iowans into believing the budget glass is half full when it’s actually completely empty,” Vander Plaats said. “It’s bad enough that his overspending has driven the state budget to a $900-million shortfall this new fiscal year. Now he’s proving his only strategy to get us out of his mess is to deny it’s even happening and still insist things are getting better. He can’t fix the problem because he and his staff have succumbed to a bunker mentality. In their minds, everyone else is wrong and they’re the only ones who are right. Iowans have seen it before with failed administrations but we never imagined we’d see something like this from one of our own governors.”
On Monday, Culver and several key aides claimed state tax collections were up 1.2 percent in July. However, the Legislative Service Agency said revenues fell 6 percent last month. Culver’s budget director said an increase in sales and use tax payments was a “healthy increase” that could signal an economic rebound. The LSA attributed the increase to a one-month bookkeeping change that inflates sales and use tax payments by about $40 million. The agency said last July’s numbers are about the same as this July’s receipts, shooting holes in the Culver administration’s politically motivated boast of an increase, healthy or otherwise.
“In June, Chet Culver was saying the state budget ‘should be all right’ even as it was headed for an end-of-year train wreck. Now, his budget director says ‘hopefully … we may see some hope in the future.’ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hoping not a leadership strategy,” Vander Plaats said. “Chet Culver needs to take immediate action to curb state spending over the next 11 months of this fiscal year instead of waiting and hoping, hoping and waiting until next spring that things will change.”
Noting that House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha is among those leaders who say state revenues are declining, Vander Plaats added, “How can we expect Chet Culver to work in a bipartisan manner to repair the state budget when he can’t admit it’s broken? We need a governor who accepts the truth instead of hunkering down and shutting everyone out. I promise Iowans this: If they elect me as their next governor, I won’t wait until Inauguration Day to go to work on the budget; I’ll start working the day after the election to find common ground to control spending, reform government and give taxpayers more for less.”
For more information about the Vander Plaats campaign, click here.
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