DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa Republicans have had plenty to celebrate this legislative session, as they pushed through a conservative agenda ranging from gun rights expansion to public worker collective bargaining restrictions, but none seem to be enjoying the final task of balancing the state budget.
Although GOP lawmakers pride themselves on reducing government spending, they acknowledge it's hard to make the deep cuts needed in the face of sluggish tax revenue growth. Available money has also been reduced by tax cuts and credits approved in previous years.
"We have to leave here with a balanced budget," said GOP Rep. Pat Grassley, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "We're going to have to make difficult decisions to do that. But I think Iowans expect us to make the tough decisions, not kick the can down the road."
Lawmakers could complete work as soon as this week on a roughly $7.24 billion budget that is more than $110 million less than what lawmakers approved last year, following a mid-year budget cut. A separate shortfall of more than $130 million was plugged with a rainy day fund, but Republicans have promised to pay back that money within two years.