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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.

Cases: 542053

Reported Deaths: 7035
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1129221671
Ramsey46808847
Dakota41281414
Anoka37372413
Washington24322273
Stearns20596216
St. Louis16440296
Scott15511116
Wright14374124
Olmsted1258796
Sherburne1026779
Carver950443
Clay765889
Rice7432101
Blue Earth679340
Kandiyohi620379
Crow Wing594086
Chisago537648
Otter Tail533173
Benton520296
Mower446532
Winona435349
Douglas433270
Goodhue431271
Nobles396648
Morrison384559
McLeod382354
Beltrami366257
Isanti362259
Polk359166
Itasca358251
Steele348914
Becker345848
Lyon342648
Carlton323352
Freeborn320129
Pine306021
Nicollet299842
Brown290639
Mille Lacs271248
Le Sueur265422
Todd265430
Cass242426
Meeker228037
Waseca226820
Martin209629
Wabasha19793
Roseau194118
Dodge16824
Renville168043
Hubbard167841
Redwood163735
Houston161814
Cottonwood151820
Fillmore15069
Pennington148519
Chippewa143736
Faribault141719
Wadena140021
Sibley132710
Aitkin127036
Kanabec125821
Watonwan12429
Rock121018
Jackson114110
Yellow Medicine108419
Pipestone107425
Murray10149
Pope9926
Swift97518
Marshall84017
Stevens79610
Lake77819
Wilkin75612
Clearwater75514
Koochiching74912
Lac qui Parle73122
Big Stone5544
Lincoln5532
Grant5388
Norman5129
Mahnomen4898
Unassigned48178
Kittson44822
Red Lake3817
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods2932
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 355069

Reported Deaths: 5797
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55519598
Linn20164329
Scott18724234
Black Hawk15464306
Woodbury14787219
Johnson1386780
Dubuque13033202
Dallas1082296
Pottawattamie10621160
Story1024747
Warren548486
Clinton531189
Cerro Gordo519386
Webster505991
Sioux502973
Marshall476274
Muscatine454996
Des Moines439465
Wapello4246120
Buena Vista421140
Jasper406370
Plymouth393979
Lee366755
Marion353975
Jones292055
Henry285337
Bremer278260
Carroll277850
Crawford261139
Boone256431
Benton248955
Washington247849
Dickinson238743
Mahaska223349
Jackson217142
Kossuth211461
Clay208325
Tama206371
Delaware201039
Winneshiek192633
Page189020
Buchanan187331
Cedar182623
Fayette182641
Wright178735
Hardin178642
Hamilton177049
Harrison174673
Clayton165455
Butler161834
Mills157320
Cherokee156438
Floyd154542
Lyon153541
Poweshiek152133
Madison152019
Allamakee149051
Iowa144624
Hancock142734
Winnebago135331
Grundy134732
Cass133954
Calhoun133011
Jefferson130535
Emmet127140
Shelby126637
Louisa126149
Appanoose125847
Sac125719
Mitchell125241
Union123732
Chickasaw122015
Humboldt117926
Guthrie116728
Franklin112421
Palo Alto109622
Howard102622
Unassigned10030
Montgomery99737
Clarke98023
Keokuk94430
Monroe93228
Ida88533
Adair84032
Pocahontas83021
Monona80530
Davis79824
Greene76310
Lucas74822
Osceola73816
Worth7008
Taylor65012
Fremont60410
Decatur5889
Van Buren55318
Ringgold53322
Wayne51823
Audubon4939
Adams3264
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