The Governor released his 2010 budget at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 28th. Republican leaders and appropriation ranking members were invited to meet with the Governor and Lt. Governor at 9:15 a.m., just preceding the formal budget announcement. This meeting was held in the Governor's formal office on the first floor of the capitol. It was both respectful and professional with Republicans and Democrats pledging to work in the best interest of Iowans while acknowledging their differences yet to be resolved. It lacked the emotion displayed in the Governor's exchange with media at the 10 a.m. formal announcement. The Governor's budget proposal now begins the legislative appropriation process.
In stark contrast to all the conversation, the Governor actually released a 2010 budget proposal that is $147 million higher than estimated 2009 appropriations after the across the board reduction. The Governor has publicly announced he will not raise taxes; meaning he will not sign bills calling for a tax increase. His budget proposal, however, does raise taxes on Iowans by at least $80 million. This is done by capping existing tax credits, eliminating the livestock producers tax credit, reducing state payments for property tax credits, and not fully funding the state's portion of school aid. Property taxes no doubt will rise because of these decisions.
We will try to include more budget details in future newsletters. One final mention on the budget. Remember the recent cigarette and tobacco tax increase? Remember the pledge to direct the new tax money raised to the Health Care Trust Fund? Well, the Governor's plan eliminates that Health Care Trust Fund. All of the money goes to the General Fund, where health care must compete with everyone else for available dollars. So much for that promise. The promise that the cigarette tax increase would go to health care had a very, very short life.
Disaster relief rightly was the first major work done this session. That legislation has passed both chambers and is on the way to the Governor for his signature. The bill moved through both House and Senate without a dissenting vote reflecting the spirit Iowans have in helping each other.
I want to welcome Senate Page, Hannah Fordyce from Alta. Hannah is a senior in high school and hopes to go to Drake University or Truman State (Kirksville, Mo.) this fall. Later she plans to enter law school. Hannah said she became interested in becoming a Page when she visited the Capitol with her 4-H group. Bill Krieg, Supervisor of Pages said, "Hannah is a joy to have as a Page. She is always pleasant and has a winning smile." We are lucky to have Hannah join us in the Senate.