Column: Battle of the budget begins at Iowa's CapitolDES MOINES, Iowa — Last year the Iowa General Assembly finally passed a budget on June 30, averting a government shutdown by mere hours.
By: State Senator David Johnson, Worthington Daily Globe
DES MOINES, Iowa — Last year the Iowa General Assembly finally passed a budget on June 30, averting a government shutdown by mere hours.
The good news for Iowans is that the legislature is moving much faster this year.
The bad news is that there is still a lot of work yet to be done. The battle of the budget is really only starting to get serious.
To date, Democrats who control the Iowa Senate have passed a handful of department budgets. However, when all their individual budgets are pieced together like a puzzle, Iowans continue to see a picture they cannot afford.
Bottom line: Senate Democrats spend $1.03 for every one dollar of revenue taken in.
While that’s slightly better than their spending habits during the Gov. Culver administration, it is still not a spending level that any individual, family, business or government can sustain over the long term.
At the beginning of the session, Senate Republicans laid out five key budgeting principles:
1) The budget should not spend more dollars than our state takes in. Hard-working Iowa taxpayers have to tighten their belts and they deserve a legislature that does the same.
2) Enact a balanced budget without raising taxes. In these challenging economic times, taxpayers do not need government taking more of their money.
3) Using one-time dollars for ongoing expenses is not responsible, is not sustainable and is not acceptable. We must continue to wean ourselves from using one-time dollars, which is precisely what got us into our fiscal mess just a few years ago. The damage done then: a $1 billion deficit.
4) Leave enough in the savings account to plan for the future. Just because we may have some additional dollars does not mean we automatically have to spend it. We need to plan for the future and be ready in case of emergencies, like the floods of 1993, 2008 and 2011.
5) Let’s be transparent and accountable. Iowans want their priorities funded, but they do not want to see politicians using gimmicks to mislead or deceive. We should be straightforward and honest.
Iowans deserve better than Washington style-spending, and that is why Senate Republicans remain hopeful that we will be able to support a budget later this spring once further discussions occur.
There is still a lot of work to do and there are a lot of compromises that will need to be made.
Fiscal responsibility — it’s the right thing to do.
Raw deal — You can expect the unexpected in the state legislature. This week the Senate was debating a non-controversial bill dealing with farmers markets. Out of nowhere a fellow senator offered an amendment that would end the ban on the sale of raw milk in Iowa.
As the only member of the General Assembly with a background in dairy farming, I needed to challenge my colleague.
Some background: This issue is not new to the state. Last year an Iowa dairy farmer in favor of selling raw milk emailed me: “Iowa is surrounded with ‘legal raw milk’ states. I haven’t heard of any major outbreaks of disease in these states...”
The facts are these, according to the Iowa Environmental Health Association. Over a recent 14-year period, 69 outbreaks of human infections resulting from the consumption of raw milk were reported in the United States, including the states of Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. The human toll: 1,505 illnesses, 185 hospitalizations and two deaths.
Pasteurization of milk is done for good reason. Consuming raw milk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is 150 times more likely to cause a disease outbreak than pasteurized milk. Yet supporters of raw milk sales continue to argue that pasteurization destroys nutritional content. Not so, studies say.
I could go into more detail about the dangers of selling raw milk. Long story short, I challenged whether the amendment was germane (relevant) to the bill. The Senate president ruled in my favor.
Let’s all be safe this spring as farm equipment and supplies begin to roll toward what we all pray to be a bountiful harvest this fall.
Your questions and comments are always welcome. You can reach me in the Iowa Senate by calling (712) 758-3280 and leaving a message; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Johnson of Ocheyedan represents Iowa Senate District 3 .