Capital Update January 19, 2012

Myth of the $1 Billion Surplus

The so-called “surplus” is actually:

-$600 million in one-time cash reserve funds (needed to help the state cash flow)

-$250 million in one-time ending balance from this year (FY 12)

-$200 million in on-going revenue growth for next year (FY 13)

The state budget is really about $12 billion.  $6 billion appropriated by the state and $6 billion received from the federal government.

State law requires that 10% of the budget be set aside in cash reserves and not spent on ongoing operations. This means the $600 million is off-limits for existing and new spending.

The Legislature can legally spend the $250 million in one-time ending balance money from this year.  However, this is a reckless and short-sighted budgeting practice because it builds $250 million of spending the following year with no one-time money to pay for the new spending.

While the Legislature can spend up to 99% of the projected revenue, it is not required to spend at the level.  The economy, federal debt, and anticipated federal cuts that will impact the $6 billion in federal funds received by the state require commonsense and discipline.

Internet Video From House Chambers

New this session you can view all the House proceedings online, thanks to our new cameras located in the front and back of the House Chambers.

There are 5 different cameras in the chambers that are operated through the same system as our voting machines.  When a member is recognized to speak, the camera is supposed to automatically move and focus on the head and shoulders of the speaker.  When no one is speaking, or we are at ease, the camera gives an overhead shot of the chambers.  We instituted the system in an attempt to further open government up to our constituents.

You can find the video by going to the Iowa Legislature website: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/index.aspx and clicking on the link “Live House Video.”

Just a reminder, you can provide input on how you think the state government can improve. You can find the link to input your ideas at the bottom of the Iowa Legislature website: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/index.aspx. As a member of the State Government Committee we appreciate any input you may have to improve state government.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns about these topics or any others please feel free to contact me by e-mail at lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us or by phone at (515) 281-7330.

Sincerely,

Lee Hein

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