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Avian Flu Worries State Budget-Writers

Amy Mayer/IPR
Turkeys at Noel Thompson's farm in central Iowa

A southeast Iowa lawmaker whose district includes a turkey processing business is warning that avian flu could result in layoffs, and a decline in state tax receipts.   

Republican Representative David Heaton of Mount Pleasant says that uncertainty is one reason why Republicans are holding the line on state spending.   

Heaton is concerned about the 500 employees at West Liberty Foods.

“Those jobs are now under threat by this outbreak,” Heaton says.  “My people are scared of what is going to happen to their jobs and their families.”

Heaton says the potential impact of avian flu on the Iowa economy isn’t clear.

“But we can be sure that family income in many areas will suffer,” Heaton says.  “And we can be sure it will affect tax revenues we will not receive.”

Heaton made his comments as the House approved millions of dollar in cuts to social service programs over the objections of House Democrats.    Republican budget-writers continue to push through bills to reduce state spending to less than Republican Governor Terry Branstad proposes.   

Republicans also cite declining farm income as a reason to keep spending in check for the fiscal year that starts July 1st.