Worthan Newsletter23

March 12, 2015 Road construction season in Iowa is about to begin. I just received a notice from the DOT that Hwy 196 in...

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March 12, 2015 Road construction season in Iowa is about to begin. I just received a notice from the DOT that Hwy 196 in Sac County will be closed and a detour put in place beginning on Monday, March 16. Traffic will be routed west on US 71 to county M54 then north to Hwy 20. Hwy 196 will be reconstructed complete with new bridges from Hwy 71 to Hwy 20. The DOT has also announced the acceleration of the Hwy 20 four lane project. With most of the preliminary work complete, Hwy 20 is one of the few projects in the state that ready for the advances stages of earth work and construction. It may be possible that the long sought completion of a four lane Hwy 20 is in sight. At this point there has been no movement in the supplemental state aid to schools negotiations. The House is proposing a 1.25% increase over FY15 funding; the Senate has proposed a 4% increase. 1.25% represents just over $100 million in new revenue to the K-12 school systems in the state, the Senate proposal would increase funding by nearly $250 million. The House proposal just fits into our commitment to spend no more than the state is projected to take in. We have met this commitment every year since we attained the majority in the House. Our commitment has resulted in substantial increases in the ending fund balance until this year. While we budgeted within the constraints of projected revenue for the current budget year, our ending fund balance will decrease because incoming revenue has not met the projections. If we had not had that ending fund balance in place, we would be dipping into our reserve accounts or contemplating across the board budget cuts in order to balance this year’s budget and would have no reserves to carry into FY16. The Senate proposal of a $250 million increase could result in several different scenarios. The first option would dip into the remainder of the ending fund balance, depleting it and leaving the only options for FY17 to be across the board cuts or increasing taxes. The second option would be to pass a 4% increase and then not supply the funding. This was done regularly during the Vilsack and Culver administrations. This option would allow school districts to increase spending by 4% by increasing property taxes to cover the shortfall from state funding. A third option to fund the 4% would be to cut other department budgets in order to fund the increase in education. As we ask our Senate colleagues what departments they propose to cut in order to balance the budget our questions are met by silence. In fact, when Senator Quirmbach, Senate chair of the Supplemental State Aid Conference Committee, was asked a direct question in committee, “How do you intend to pay for the four percent increase?” he did not answer. When the questioner, Representative Soderberg, then queried “You don’t know how you’re going to pay for this?” Senator Quirmbach’s answer was “We need to pass the bill, and then we will figure out how to pay for it.” That phrase feels eerily familiar. This is the exact budgeting philosophy that led us to a 10% across-the-board budget cut in October of 2010 and required $900 million in cuts in 2011 to balance the budget. Commitment and cooperation between the House and the Governor dedicated to conservative budgeting principals has allowed to us to weather the

current downturn in revenue with very little effect on Iowans. We will maintain that commitment and not allow irresponsible budgeting by the Senate to paint us into the same corner we were in 2010. I am still working with staff, lobbyists, local landowners and attorneys to make sure that drainage districts, landowners, and farmers have adequate protection if there would be a leak in the proposed Dakota Access pipeline. The conflicts of where liability lies within corporate law versus environmental law vs government clean up super funds is a maze that few know how to navigate. I continue to research, ask questions, and challenge assertions in an effort to assure that Buena Vista and Sac county residents will be adequately protected if there would be an incident during the construction or the operation of Dakota Access should it be built.

Please join me at my upcoming legislative forum: March 21 Kings Pointe Regatta Grill 10:00 a.m.