Des Moines, Iowa — The more than eight-and-a-half billion dollar state budget Governor Reynolds has approved represents a three-point-seven percent increase in spending.
Here are some of the areas where state spending is increasing: lawmakers expect to spend nearly 107-and-a-half million dollars on the new state-funded accounts for low-income parents who enroll their kids in private school. Public K-through-12 schools will get a three percent increase in state funding. Attorneys who represent indigent clients will get 35 dollars an hour for travel for the first time along with a five dollar per hour increase in attorneys’ fees, an effort to get more attorneys to represent low-income clients declared indigent by the courts.
Lawmakers have the authority to spend up a 99 percent of expected state tax revenue. The budget Reynolds gave final approval to this week spends 88 percent. All taxes above that paid during the next state fiscal year will be deposited in reserves and the Taxpayer Relief Fund. By this time next year, the state is projected to have three-and-a-half billion dollars in the Taxpayer Relief Fund along with a two billion dollar surplus.
Democrats say Republicans are hoarding money that would be spent on priorities like public education. Republicans say it’s a responsible budget plan, with extra cash to cushion the state if there’s a recession or if tax cuts depress state revenue below expectations.