Advocates for schools, social services, and the courts turned out at the capitol today for a public hearing on mid-year budget cuts.
Tax receipts have not met projections so lawmakers are negotiating how much to cut the Regents universities, human services, and most other areas of state government.
A Senate bill would cut university funds for this academic year by $14 million. That’s after this year’s budget was already reduced by $30 million.
Iowa State University student Kody Olson is worried the cuts will result in higher tuition.
“I had a sick feeling in my stomach when the Iowa Senate announced a $14 million deappropriation to the Regents universities,” Olson said to a packed committee room. “While these costs may resolve the annual budget, it will have generational impacts.”
Olson has worked his way through college with little help from his low-income family.
“I had to juggle academics, leadership roles, and two jobs in order to make it,” Olson said. “In looking back I'm not sure I would have made it even if school had cost just a few hundred more dollars.”
The president of the Iowa Bar Association warned that a proposed $1.6 million cut to the Judicial Branch will cause significant disruption to court services in all 99 counties that Iowans will notice.
"These include people involved in domestic abuse cases who need immediate attention to their very charged situations, mothers and fathers involved in domestic relations matters ending marriages and affecting children," said Steve Eckley, “and the prosecution of criminal cases that may ultimately be dismissed because of the speedy trial requirements."
Lawmakers have scaled back an earlier proposed Judicial Branch cut that court officials said would require shutting down courthouses in 30 Iowa counties.
The head of the state’s largest public employees union warned against cuts to the Department of Corrections after recent violent incidents affecting prison guards.
“Your actions have real-life consequences,” said American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees President Danny Homan. “Please don't vote this budget through.”
But Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven told lawmakers his agency can live with the proposed cuts.
“At the level that you’re at, we can do that without decreasing beds, without laying off social workers, and without cutting benefits of people we serve," Foxhoven said. “Much beyond that would be a challenge for us.”