DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa House have approved a plan to address an expected deficit in the current year’s state budget. Cuts are necessary because of lower-than-expected state tax collections. Representative Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, guided the plan through House debate.
“We’re not Washington, D.C. We don’t print money,” said Grassley, whose grandfather is U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. “We have to have a balanced budget at the end of each year, so we have to go in and make decisions, which they’re tough decisions. There’s a lot of decisions in here that are extremely tough. We have to try to do the best we can with our priorities.”
More than 40 percent of the cuts will fall on the state university campuses in Ames and Iowa City. Administrators will be asked to cut nearly $11 million from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University budgets.
“Yes, our universities take it on the chin and they deal with it, but at what cost to the students?” asked Representative Vicki Lensing, a Democrat from Iowa City.
Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, calls the cuts to the two public universities “simply irresponsible.”
“We’re not going to stay top-of-the-line unless we invest in the universites,” she said. “Our students, our faculty and our staff can’t live on the bare bones.”
The University of Northern Iowa — the other state-supported university — will not be forced to make mid-year budget cuts. There are a little more than three months left in the current state budgeting year. Administrators in the Department of Human Services, the state’s prison system and the state’s court system also are being asked to make significant spending cuts. Senate Republican leaders have signaled they’ll support the plan House Republicans approved late Tuesday afternoon.