December Newsletter

REC Meets to Set Official Estimate for the FY 2013 Budget

 On December 15, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met to revise the revenue estimate for FY 2012 and set the official estimate for the FY 2013 budget.  Under current law, the Governor and Legislature must use the December REC estimate when adopting a budget for the following fiscal year.

In October, the REC lowered the estimate to $5.974, or 1.3 percent compared to FY 2011.  This was $17.5 million less than the adjusted March estimate.  It also established the first estimate for FY 2013, $6.209 billion in net revenue, or 3.9 percent above FY 2012.

At the December meeting, the REC increased the FY 2012 estimate to $6.000 billion, or 1.7 percent compared to FY 2011.  This is an increase of $25 million compared to the October estimate.  For FY 2013, the REC set the estimate at $6.251 billion, or 4.2 percent compared to FY 2012.

For FY 2013, the Legislature has already appropriated $5.155 billion in general fund dollars, which includes fully funding 2 percent allowable growth for K-12, full funding of the property tax credits and 50 percent of the FY 2012 appropriations for most other line items in the budget.

 The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) estimates it will take $295 million to fully fund the built-in expenditures. This includes $100 million more for Medicaid (which is already funded at 100 percent), $100 million for salary increases (which were not funded in FY 2012) and $30 million for mental health allowed growth.

LSA also estimates that it will take an additional $1.06 billion to increase all line current line items from 50 percent to 100 percent.  If all line items are increased to 100 percent and if the Legislature funds all built-in expenditures at the current estimates, LSA projects a $115.6 million spending gap for FY 2013.

 With net farm income up 28 percent to over $100 billion for 2011, it is obvious that the strong farm sector is driving Iowa’s economy.  Whether or not this growth can be sustained is definitely a concern but for now it is a big bright spot for the state.  For more on net farm income, click here:

http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2011/11/29/farm-income-soaring-thi-syear-usda-says/

Last session House Republicans insisted that the one-time ending balance not be built into the budget and not used to fund ongoing expenditures.  The news from the REC confirms that this is the right approach. House Republicans will continue to demand a conservative approach to budgeting; especially not knowing if the ag economy can sustain its growth and what cuts from the Federal Government will have to be covered.

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 6.0% in October

Data released by Iowa Workforce Development showed that October’s unemployment rate remained at 6.0%.  The nation’s unemployment rate has now dropped to 8.6%. This number has been lauded by many as an accomplishment for the nation, but the reality is the 8.6% tallies those employed and looking for employment. It does not include those who have given up searching for a job, which many attribute to the large drop in the national unemployment level.  More individuals actually left the workforce (315,000) than got jobs (120,000), which is leading many to analysts to note that the 8.6% number isn’t as beneficial as it appears.

Non-farm employment rose by 2,300 jobs in Iowa from September to October, with the ‘construction’ (1,300), ‘manufacturing’ (1,300), and ‘education and health services’ (1,100) areas making the biggest gains. ‘Leisure and hospitality’ (-900) and ‘financial services’ (-700) saw the biggest decreases.  That leaves the number of non-farm employment in Iowa at 1,484,400.

The Workforce Development numbers also show that initial unemployment claims are holding right around 12,000 claims per month, while the number of continued claims decreased from 27,967 in September to 27,253 in October as more individuals run out of benefits.

News from District 31

I have been busy attending legislative forums that groups are holding around the district.  I am looking forward to bringing your issue to Des Moines at the start of the session on January 9th.

I received a couple of emails from constituents in the medical profession.  I thought their message was a good one, especially for a possible New Years resolution.  I pasted one of the emails here for you to read.

 As your constituent, I am writing to share some resources and facts about heart disease and stroke with you.  Now that you are out of session, why not take some time for yourself and learn how you can take an active part in your heart and stroke health?

Because office visits are short (about 15 minutes), preparing can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. Researchers at Ohio State University developed the PACE Guide Sheet to give you an easy way to organize your feelings, questions and concerns before your visit. PACE stands for:

“P = Provide information about how you feel.
“A = Ask questions if you don’t have enough information.
“C = Clarify what you hear.
“E = Express any concerns you may have.

You can access the PACE Guide Sheet and get additional information about heart disease and stroke by visiting www.heart.org/questionstoask

So as the New Year approaches take time for yourself.  Get a physical, visit with your doctor and understand what he or she is telling you.  It could save your life and that is important to all of us.

As always, if you have any concerns or issues that need’s addressing, please contact me.  My email address is lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us or my phone is 319-480-1997.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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