Statehouse Republicans have tentatively agreed to scale back some of Governor Branstad’s biggest proposed budget cuts for the fiscal year that ends in June.
But numerous agencies will still have to give up millions of dollars they expected to be able to spend.
The GOP is struggling to cut more than $100 million from this year’s budget because tax receipts have not met expectations.
Senator Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) said for example the governor’s request to cut $25 million from the Regents schools gave legislators heartburn.
“There was a lot of discussion on the different cuts and where they ended up,” Feenstra said. “We had to agree with the House and the Senate and the governor and this is what we ended up agreeing on.”
GOP legislators trimmed the governor’s cuts back to $88 million in order to spare some of the pain for higher education, corrections, and the judicial branch.
But those and other areas will still see significant cuts, $18 million for the Regents alone.
To be able to afford to scale back the governor’s proposal, Republicans will not approve $30 million in proposed tax deductions for businesses and individuals this year.
“This was very disappointing,” said Feenstra. “We always want to give tax relief to Iowans.”
“That was a hard one,” said Sen. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines.) “None of these are fun.”
Leading Democratic tax-writer Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) argued the growing number of corporate tax credits should be cut instead of education.
“The deep, midyear budget cuts endorsed today by Republican legislators are mean-spirited and will harm Iowa college students, working families and seniors,” Bolkcom said in a statement.
Like the Governor, House and Senate GOP members have protected K-12 schools, Medicaid, and property tax credits from any cuts this year.