Senate Endorses Amendment To State Constitution Limiting Spending

Iowa Capitol Golden DomeDes Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Constitution requires that the State of Iowa have a balanced budget, but the Iowa Senate has endorsed a constitutional amendment that would lock in that and other restraints on state spending. Senator Randy Feenstra from Hull voted for the proposal, which he says would help future legislatures avoid the boom-and-bust cycles of budgeting.

Feenstra clarifies that this is a long process. He says this proposed constitutional amendment must clear the Iowa House by 2018, and then be approved AGAIN by the House and Senate in 2019 or 2020 before it could be submitted to voters in 2020.

The proposed amendment would take the state law that currently limits state spending to 99 percent of expected tax revenue and make that law part of the constitution instead. It also would impose a new limit on how much state spending may increase from year-to-year. Overriding these “constitutional caps” on spending would require a vote by at least two-thirds of the legislature along with the governor’s approval.

Feenstra says the law as it stands now has too many loopholes.

Democratic critics say a constitutional amendment would prevent legislators of the future from functioning in times of crisis. Ten senators, all Democrats, voted against the proposal. Feenstra says the state will still have funds for crisis and disaster.

Basically, supporters of the amendment say it would prevent the state from going into debt and would hold future legislators accountable.

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