DES MOINES, Iowa – As of Monday, the 2017 Iowa Legislative Session is underway and lawmakers are ready to get to work to satisfy a $100 million dollar state budget deficit.
“Oh boy, that is going to be quite a job, trying to figure out where to get the money to finish fiscal year 2017,” says Republican State Senator, Dennis Guth.
He is one of the many lawmakers feeling the pressure to finish old business before looking towards new initiatives.
“We have to make sure we finish up the business of 2017 before we can get very deep into 2018,” says Speaker of the House, Republican Linda Upmeyer.
Everyone knows cuts need to be made, but so many are unsure of where that $100 million will come from.
“We are going to have to hear what the Governor proposes and then evaluate where those cuts would be,” says Democratic State Senator, Amanda Ragan.
Governor Branstad has already said he does not want to make cuts to some of the state’s most expensive obligations like Medicaid, K-12 education and commercial property taxes.
“I agree with Governor Branstad on his thinking, we don’t want to cut K-12, we don’t want to cut any education,” says Republican State Representative Tedd Gassman.
But area lawmakers say, that doesn’t leave much left to take from.
“If you make some cuts in different departments, you might be able to come up with that amount of money without hurting one too drastically,” says Democratic State Representative Sharon Steckman.
Another factor not playing in their favor is time. According to legislators, we are already half-way through the fiscal year so cuts would have to happen within the next six months, so they are wasting no time.
“That’s what we are going to do all week, see where we can take some money out of budget in order to get us through 2017. Part of that is going to come out of supplies and things like that, that we can put off for a little while but it’s going to be a difficult process and I can’t tell you how it’s going to all come out,” says Guth.
“We are working with the Governor and the Senate, so I am predicting within the next couple of days we will be announcing what that proposal looks like,” says Upmeyer.
Governor Branstad will give his Condition of the State report Tuesday morning, when he is expected to outline where some of the funds will come from. Any cuts made in fiscal year 2017 will carry into 2018.