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Iowa GOP senators propose cutting $52M from state budget

Plan includes reductions to higher education.

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 6:18 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Senate Republicans on Thursday proposed about $52 million in mid-year cuts to Iowa's $7.2 billion state budget, including reductions to higher education and the courts that administrators overseeing those systems warned would have detrimental effects.

The plan, which goes beyond the nearly $30 million spending reductions proposed by GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this month, is for the budget year that runs through June. It is preliminary and will require additional votes. The full Senate is expected to do so next week, while House Republicans say they're still finalizing their own proposal for spending cuts.

It's still unclear how aligned the Republican-controlled chambers will be at first, but they'll ultimately have to reach agreement before they can turn to the next state budget that begins in July.

The Senate GOP plan included $19.3 million in reductions to Iowa's three public universities — the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. The Board of Regents, which oversees the schools, indicated it would fight to lessen the proposed reductions.

"As the state of Iowa is focusing on high-demand jobs, degree attainment, and the biosciences economy, cutting the public universities to this degree goes in the opposite direction of achieving these goals. The public universities are key drivers in all three of these areas and are critical to the future economic success of our state," said Regents Executive Director Mark Braun in a statement.

Jacob Simpson, student government president at the University of Iowa studying economics, said the cuts will be a factor in decisions on tuition and could make higher education more difficult to afford.

"With a mid-year cut, they're going to respond by needing to increase tuition," he said. "We already know students struggle to pay for school."

Sen. Charles Schneider, a West Des Moines Republican who chairs a key Senate budget committee, said the additional cuts ensure GOP lawmakers can help avoid more mid-year reductions. Budget experts are expected to release their latest projections on the current spending year in March, and lower-than-expected state revenue could force more cuts or tapping emergency funds.

Schneider provided the $52 million reduction estimate though preliminary data broke down a $50 million cut. He said the goal was to make cuts "in a way that's fiscally responsible and that reflects the priorities that we as Iowans all hold most dear." That includes no direct cuts to K-12 education spending.

The Senate plan was announced on the same day students from several community colleges visited the state Capitol as part of a lobbying day. Lawmakers in both chambers highlighted the visit by giving students standing ovations in the chambers. A short time later, the Senate GOP spending plan revealed a $5.4 million cut to community colleges.

Reynolds told reporters at her weekly press conference she would be open to proposals from legislators. Her budget plan included a cut of $5.1 million to the regents and $1.8 million to community colleges.

The plan announced Thursday would also include $4.8 million in cuts to the Judicial Branch, which is part of Iowa's court system. That's more than the $1.6 million reduction proposed by Reynolds. State Court Administrator Todd Nuccio said 30 county courthouses across Iowa would close. Those closures would be determined by caseload.

Reductions were expected to some degree. A budget panel predicted in December that while Iowa is still experiencing revenue growth, it's at a lower than expected rate. Similar predictions led to a mid-year spending cut last session and ultimately about $144 million in borrowing from reserve funds. That money is expected to be paid back.

Iowa's budget constraints come at a time when the state's unemployment rate has dropped to 2.8 percent. Reynolds and Republicans have said cutting taxes will be a priority this session, in an effort to spur more economic growth. Few specifics have been released on those assertions.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 125531

Reported Deaths: 2299
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin32544966
Ramsey13430347
Dakota9321134
Anoka8154148
Stearns544336
Washington530567
Scott320934
Olmsted308929
St. Louis268963
Wright229614
Nobles216416
Clay207343
Blue Earth19717
Carver17077
Rice15819
Kandiyohi15704
Sherburne156621
Mower149113
Winona119918
Lyon9286
Crow Wing91521
Waseca9119
Chisago8792
Benton8575
Beltrami7977
Otter Tail7726
Todd7323
Steele7242
Itasca68417
Nicollet68217
Freeborn6384
Morrison6296
Douglas6123
Martin58916
Le Sueur5855
McLeod5693
Watonwan5684
Goodhue51511
Pine5110
Becker5033
Polk5024
Isanti4953
Chippewa3973
Carlton3861
Dodge3660
Mille Lacs36010
Hubbard3352
Pipestone32816
Wabasha3270
Cass3205
Meeker3113
Rock3011
Brown3003
Yellow Medicine2675
Cottonwood2640
Murray2533
Redwood25011
Fillmore2380
Sibley2383
Renville23011
Faribault2130
Roseau1990
Jackson1981
Wadena1980
Unassigned19553
Swift1921
Kanabec18910
Houston1811
Stevens1681
Lincoln1670
Pennington1651
Koochiching1624
Aitkin1562
Pope1480
Big Stone1280
Wilkin1254
Lac qui Parle1242
Lake1050
Mahnomen971
Norman970
Grant904
Marshall881
Clearwater840
Red Lake592
Traverse530
Lake of the Woods421
Kittson270
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 108620

Reported Deaths: 1562
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18087283
Woodbury685392
Johnson566030
Black Hawk526596
Linn5114127
Dubuque476354
Scott410537
Story387418
Dallas331043
Pottawattamie299844
Sioux230414
Buena Vista220412
Marshall193736
Webster172814
Plymouth154426
Wapello147562
Clinton136926
Muscatine136158
Crawford132112
Cerro Gordo126323
Des Moines12409
Warren11596
Carroll10388
Jasper103034
Henry9865
Marion93510
Tama90737
Lee8819
Wright6951
Delaware6898
Dickinson6877
Boone6819
Mahaska63723
Bremer6239
Washington61111
Harrison5868
Jackson5393
Benton5211
Lyon5177
Louisa49415
Clay4884
Hamilton4513
Winneshiek4479
Winnebago44517
Hardin4315
Poweshiek43011
Kossuth4280
Floyd41811
Jones4133
Buchanan4033
Emmet40214
Cedar3935
Iowa3848
Franklin37518
Guthrie37215
Sac3694
Cherokee3682
Page3620
Clayton3533
Shelby3511
Butler3472
Fayette3462
Madison3442
Cass3402
Mills3391
Allamakee3358
Chickasaw3271
Clarke3163
Humboldt2993
Palo Alto2912
Hancock2864
Grundy2834
Calhoun2724
Howard2519
Osceola2480
Monroe24511
Mitchell2360
Monona2311
Taylor2252
Union2164
Pocahontas2112
Appanoose2063
Jefferson2031
Lucas1896
Fremont1821
Ida1792
Greene1740
Van Buren1622
Davis1584
Montgomery1585
Adair1431
Keokuk1421
Audubon1341
Worth1300
Decatur1290
Wayne1123
Ringgold822
Adams700
Unassigned50
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