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Layoffs Possible but no Furloughs to Balance State Budget

Joyce Russell/IPR
Gov. Terry Branstad at AP Legislative Seminar at Iowa State Capitol

State agencies will not be furloughing state workers in order to balance their budgets between now and the end of the fiscal year in June.    

That’s what Governor Branstad told reporters at a legislative seminar Wednesday as he previewed his plans to cut this year’s budget by $100 million.      

The Department of Agriculture did a bunch of furloughs and it messed their budgets up

The cuts are needed because of a December revenue estimate that fell short of earlier projections.  

Governor Branstad is putting the finishing touches on his tax cut plan.   He promises not to make across-the-board cuts to balance the budget, or to mandate furloughs.  

In past economic downturns, agencies furloughed workers to avoid layoffs.    Branstad calls that bad public policy.  

“I remember back when I was governor before,” Branstad said, “the Department of Agriculture did a bunch of furloughs and it messed their budgets up year after year.”

Branstad says most agencies will try to absorb the cuts by not filling positions as workers retire or leave state employment.   But he says some may have to lay off workers.

“If you can't live with the budget you have then you've gotta make some kind of permanent decision,” Branstad said.   “The changes that we're looking at doing for the most part are permanent.”

It's better to make the tough decisions

Branstad said K-12 schools, Medicaid, and property tax credits will be exempt.  That leaves a relatively small portion of the budget to absorb the cuts with six months left in the fiscal year.

The governor will unveil his budget proposals next week. 

He has often criticized former Governor Chet Culver for ordering across the board cuts including for K-12 schools during the recession of 2009.