DES MOINES — House Republicans offered a plan Wednesday to slash state spending by $290 million in order to reach Gov. Chet Culver’s goal of $341 million in general fund budget savings.
The ideas range from ending state benefits to adult illegal immigrants to save $92.3 million and selling the state’s vehicle fleet to save $18.5 million to canceling all university sabbaticals for a year to save $6 million. They also propose saving $62 million by combining the administrative functions at the three regents universities.
“The Democrats are $263 million short of the governor’s target to balance the budget,” Rep. Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, said.
Rants, who is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Culver, noted the irony of offering an amendment to help the governor reach his goal.
“Republicans are here to work in a bipartisan way to get Iowa’s fiscal house in order,” he said.
Senate File 2088, which senators approved 35-15 earlier this week, comes up about $263 million short of the general funds savings Culver is seeking, Rants said. He bases that on estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency and widespread doubt that lawmakers will approve Culver’s $50 million shift of Road Use Tax Fund dollars to the general fund.
The Republicans’ amendment to a state government reorganization plan includes elimination of one of the governor’s priorities and a number of savings rejected by majority Democrats last year as well as the combination of administrative functions at regents universities.
“Look, we have a $1 billion budget gap. You can’t close that without making tough decisions,” said Rep. Chris Rants, R-Sioux City.
The GOP’s proposal came Wednesday as the House State Government Committee took up SF 2088. Chairwoman Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, didn’t have a specific amount of savings in mind, but wanted to come as close as possible to the governor’s $341 million target.
“The bigger the better,” she said of the savings.
Mascher expects the committee will meet again today and possibly Friday to finish work on a bill that is
255 pages and growing.
Rants concedes the cuts will not be pain-free.
“Do I like all of these cuts? No,” he said. “My concern is that if we don’t find the savings we either cut somewhere else or underfund K-12 education and shove the cost off onto the property taxpayer.”
The Republican amendment identified these savings:
$92.3 million — End all state benefits to adult illegal immigrants
$62 million — Combine the administrative functions at the three regents universities
$45 million — Shift voluntary preschool responsibilities to Empowerment
$25 million — Eliminate Culver’s Power Fund and Office of Energy Independence
$18.5 million — Sell and privatize the state vehicle fleet
$15 million — Sell or lease the Iowa Communication Network
$10.5 million — Delay implementation of the core curriculum one year
$6 million — Cancel all regents university sabbaticals for one year
$5 million — Reduce funding for office supplies, service contracts, equipment purchases
$4 million — Eliminate taxpayer-funded lobbyists
$2.25 million — Eliminate Just Eliminate Lies anti-smoking campaign
$2 million — Eliminate family planning waiver
$2 million — Eliminate empty shelter care beds
$1 million — Eliminate Rebuild Iowa Office, shift responsibility to Homeland Security