The first step in the legislative budgeting process is to determine the overall size of the state budget. Once we decide the “size of the pie”, we divide this top-line number among our seven different budget subcommittees. Each of these subcommittees then has the task of building each line item in their area, within their specific budget target.
This top-down approach helps us ensure that we stay within our budgeting principles. Our budget subcommittees know what they have to work with, and it prevents us from collectively spending more than we collect in revenue.
One of my biggest jobs as a legislator is to visit with constituents and community leaders to hear their concerns. Often, I hear requests for new or increased state funding. Although these requests almost always hold some degree of merit and would provide real help for some Iowans, we must ultimately consider what the taxpayers of Iowa can afford.
When I hear proposals that I personally find compelling, I pass those along to our budget committees, so that these concerns can be incorporated into their decision-making. I may not always agree with each specific line item, but it is a process that we have made work very well in recent years.
For the coming fiscal year, many of our budget priorities will be fully funding our previous commitments. Last year, we enacted several new landmark pieces of legislation, and those items must now be fully funded. We will honor our commitment to the new property tax relief package, education reform and the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan.
Another priority item for me is to fully fund residential property tax credits. Last year, we were able to finally provide full state funding for these credits, and I will work diligently to make sure we continue to provide as much property tax relief as possible.
Finally, we will not use the ending balance from last year’s budget to fund ongoing expenses. With our surplus funds, we will take the same balanced approach that most families would choose: Use some money to pay down debt, fund necessary one-time obligations and give some back to those who have overpaid.
Over the past three years, House Republicans have made tremendous progress on balancing revenue with expenses, and giving Iowa taxpayers an honest and transparent budget. I am proud to continue this effort, and I am confident that we will again be successful.