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April 30, 2015     N. Warren Town and County News
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April 30, 2015

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Thursday, April 30, 2015 N/Warren Town and County News Page Eleven NORWALK HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS TEAMS NHS Boys Soccer Varsity NHS Boys Tennis NHS Boys Track Photos by Toni Johnson Photography. Senate News By State Senator Julian B. Garrett Julian.Garrett@legis.iowa.gov. Budget Proposals he would prefer. He said I thought that the original Both Senate Democrats should use the word prcposal would have cre- and House Republicans "shortfall." I will try to re- atet a lake much larger have released their budget member to say they havethai was required for targets for the coming fis- a "shortfall" in the future drilking water and was cal year. As you might ex- instead of "deficit" when int,nded also for recre- pect, the Senate Democrats referring to their proposal, atioal purposes. The alle- propose spending more It is true that they can le- gaOn was that the land than estimated new rev-gally spend the amount wold be condemned and enues of $7.175 billion, they propose since we do the part of it would be They propose to spend have enough money in our sol4o private developers. $7,341,019,838 and makesavings account to cover In Tior years I supported up the difference by the shortfall. I do not be- legiation to limit the use spending money from ourlieve the House will agree of ainent domain to the surplus fund from priorto the Senate number, but lanneeded for the public years, that you might think if it did, we would use up puDse, in this case drink- of as a savings account, all our savings next year if ingvater. Another pro- The House Republicans we engaged in this samepost project is the Baaken propose spending kind of budgeting then.pipine that would trans- $7,168,144,634, roughly Eminent Domain por: rude oil across Iowa the amount of ongoing I am a member of a fro northeast to south- revenue that is expected. Government Oversight easfowa and into Illinois The Democrat chair of the subcommittee that will be thrugh a 30 inch pipe. Appropriations Commit- looking at the eminent is- Thcpipeline would not tee became a little emo- sue. There are several parts sere anyone in Iowa di- tional (I am trying to be of the state that could be recty. nice) when I referred to affected. One issue is a lie third project is the their proposal as contain- proposed lake in Clarke Roc Island Clean Line, an ing a deficit. He objected County. Its main purpose elecric transmission lir e to my use of the word deft- is to provide drinking wa- to nove wind generated cit. I asked him what word ter for the area. Manyelecricity from Iowa to I1- linois by a private com- pany. No Iowa customers would be served by the line. I was interested to learn that the line would transfer direct current electricity, not alternating current. I understand that it is more efficient to trans- port DC electricity and change it to AC electricity when it reaches its destina- tion. The issue presented in both the pipeline case and the electric transmis- sion line is whether a pri- vate company should be able to use eminent do- main to take land for its project. The argument in the last two cases is that even though no Iowans are directly served, the nation's energy supply will be enhanced. I will examine these proposals carefully to decide on how to proceed. The Iowa Utilities Concluded p. 12 Legislative Newsletter Stan Gustafson Iowa House Representative District 25 Budget: House Republicans released their FY 2016 General Fund budget targets on Wednesday. And for the fifth year in a row, House Republicans have pro- posed a budget that spends less than the state will take in. For FY 2016, the state would spend $7,168,144,634 out of the General Fund. This amounts to a 2.48% in- crease in state spending and spends 99.9% of the Rev- enue Estimating Conference's latest estimate for ongo- ing revenue in FY 2016. Under the Budget, the General Fund will be spent as follows: Administration & Regulation - $49,800,000 (decrease of $1,995,769); Agriculture & Natural Re- sources - $42,000,000 (decrease of $1,111,995); Economic Development - $41,400,000 (decrease of $1,181,886); Education - $977,578,044 (decrease of $8,558,321); Health & Human Services (decrease of $14,859,686); Justice Systems (decrease of $3,380,575); Standings (in- crease of $204,905,562). Standings includes Supplemen- tal State Aid. Individual line-items in each budget sub- committee area will be determined shortly by each of the appropriate budget subcommittees. This session the House starts Admin & Reg, Education, RIIF, Transpor- tation and Block Grants. The Senate starts Ag & Nat Res, Econ Dev, HHS, Justice and Standings. The House Republican budget plan does not use the ending balance, the Cash Reserve or the Economic Emer- gency Fund. Ending Balance: The non-partisan Legis- lative Services Agency considers excess funds in the ending balance one-time revenues that can carry-for- ward from one fiscal year to the next. "Reliance on these revenues for ongoing operational expenses of govern- ment programs can result in budget shortfalls if an eco- nomic downturn causes a drop in annual tax revenue." Back in 2013, the state had an ending balance of roughly $900 million. That revenue has been used to pay off state debt and invest in key infrastructure projects in our Regents institutions and improving water quality. The ending balance of FY 2015 on June 30 is estimated to be $420 million. If that money is spent, there is no auto- matic source for it to'be replenished. In FY 2012, the legislature approved a budget that spent just-95% of ongoing revenue. In FY 2013, it was just 92% of ongoing revenue. In FY 2014, it was 99.9%. Last session the Leg- islature approved a budget that spent 99.9% of ongoing revenue. Then the economy worsened and revenue dropped, meaning the state actually spent 103.3% of ongoing revenue. To pay for that overrun, the state's ending balance was tapped. Cash Reserve: The state's Cash Reserve Fund is used to cash flow the state bud- get during the year and must equal 7.5% of each year's budget. Taking money from it jeopardizes timely pay- ments to school districts and local governments. In the 1980s, the state did not have a cash reserve fund and payments to schools were not made on time. Schools were forced to borrow money to make payroll as they waited for school aid payments from the state. Schools were forced to incur additional costs because of the state's lack of fiscal responsibility. Economic Emergency Fund: The Economic Emergency Fund is used for cata- strophic problems such as the floods of 2008. State Revenue: Projected Ending Balance at the end of FY 2015 on June 30:$420 million; Current Cash Re- serve: $522.2 million; Current Economic Emergency Fund: $174.1 million; FY 2015 Revenue Estimate: $6.767 billion; FY 2015 Actual Spending Amount: $6.994 bil- lion; FY 2016 Ongoing Revenue Estimate: $7.175 billion; FY 2016 New Revenue: $180.9 million (2.6%). Property Tax Reform's Impact on School Funding: The latest narrative being built is that the commercial property tax reform bill approved in 2013 is strangling school districts by reducing the amount of property tax revenue they receive. This argument is not supported by facts. According to the non-partisan LSA, the 2013 bill did several things: Created a business property tax credit. This has no impact on school finance; Rolled in- dustrial, commercial and railroad property down to 95% and then to 90% of assessed value. This is 100% reim- bursed by the state for the first few years of the bill's implementation so it also has not had any impact on school finance. This is to make Iowa's tax structure more inviting to new industry coming here and thus creating more jobs and more tax dollars to help fund education, for example. SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Send $18 check or money order for a one year subscription to PO Box 325, Norwalk, IA 50211