Earlier in the year, Governor Reynolds signed $35 million of budget cuts in to law. These cuts to the services Iowans depend on and the state’s on-going budget crisis were the main reason that lawmakers went into overtime to close out the 2018 legislative session. In the end, a $7.48 billion budget was approved for fiscal year 2019.
Since the state budget has been in deficit for two years in a row, Republican leaders at the Statehouse struggled to balance the state budget while paying back the $144 million in debt they had to borrow last year.
The impact of the latest round of budget cuts will be felt hardest by Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens, as well as students at community colleges and state universities. Lawmakers knew the cuts would be needed since last fall, but waited until the final months of the state’s fiscal year to approve them.
As the final budget for the upcoming fiscal year was approved, many of the discussions happened with little to no public comment and review. Many of the budgets funded programs less than they did in the past, and while there were some positives, much of the funding was simply just trying to get back to levels before the budget cuts.
Many Iowans expressed concern that public schools will receive another historically low increase in state funding next year while GOP lawmakers approved a massive new tax giveaway to corporations and wealthy. In addition to budget cuts, homeowners and farmers will be paying higher property taxes and a new sales tax for online purchases next year to pay for the new tax breaks approved this year.
Hard working Iowans who craft a budget every month for their family know and expect lawmakers to use the same principles that they do every month. Republican lawmakers have failed to live up to the expectations of Iowans, by running the state’s budget on a credit card and putting corporate tax cuts before everyday Iowans.