Lawmakers closed the 2017 legislative session putting the finishing touches on the fiscal year 2018 budget as well as addressing a $131 million state budget deficit in fiscal year 2017. While the state had a $900 million surplus just a few years ago, the deficit was the result of years of mismanagement of the state budget by Republican lawmakers that included $500 million in corporate tax giveaways that overwhelmingly go to out-of-state corporations.
Now, Iowans are being forced to pay for the GOP’s budget mess. Students will be paying higher tuition. Fewer at-risk kids will be able to attend preschool. Victims of domestic violence may not get the support they need and Iowans will be paying higher property taxes.
To cover the state budget deficit this year (FY 2017), Republican lawmakers were forced to make $113 million in budget adjustments at the beginning of session which led to tuition hikes and job losses. To close out the 2017 session, the Legislature still had to borrow $131 million from the state’s savings account to cover the deficit.
For next year (FY 2018), the GOP Legislature approved a $7.27 billion state budget, which is an increase of 0.12% compared to fiscal year 2017. In addition to shortchanging public schools another year, the budget cut millions from state universities and community colleges that means higher tuition for Iowa students. It also has includes reductions for preschool scholarships, services for foster children, and drop-out prevention. Many Iowans are also concerned about Republican plans to close the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and a 25% reduction in grants to support victims of domestic violence.