Thursday, January 27, 2011

Branstad's budget

Da Budget: Listening this week to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, I thought of those word-a-day calendars. You know, the ones you get to teach you fancy, 25 cent words you can use to impress people at parties? The governor was saying how he would describe the budget. He kept using the word, austere. gives us our definition:

severe in manner or appearance; uncompromising; strict; forbidding: an austere teacher.
rigorously self-disciplined and severely moral; ascetic; abstinent: the austere quality of life in the convent.
grave; sober; solemn; serious: an austere manner.
without excess, luxury, or ease; simple; limited; severe: an austere life.
severely simple; without ornament: austere writing.
lacking softness; hard: an austere bed of straw.
rough to the taste; sour or harsh in flavor.

Today, we learned what the gov means by austere. He is cutting more than $300 million. He is also shifting more than $700 million of state spending into the general fund budget. This is the one-time money (federal stimulus dollars, borrowed money from other reserve funds, etc.). He says instead of keeping it separate like previous Governor Chet Culver did, Branstad includes it into the actual budget. Branstad feels it gives a more accurate portrayal of the state's finances. Branstad did make cuts, like he said he would. Undoubtedly this will be where the debate begins on which programs get cut and whether the cuts are too much. For one thing, he wants to give no funding increases for public schools the next two years. And he would basically cut in half the amount of money who gives to what is now the universal pre-school for 4-year-olds (Branstad only wants to give vouchers to needy families, although he hasn't released what "needy" is).

And the gov also wants to raise taxes. He wants to increase taxes on casinos from 24% to 36% (for most of the casinos). That helps raise the money to make up for the revenue the state could lose from his call to cut corporate income tax cuts in half. What do Republican anti-taxers think of this? Are you against ALL tax increases? Or is this o.k. because it raises them on casinos and cuts for other companies? You don't hear Republicans talk about raising taxes much these days. In fact, no one else really comes to mind as I write this. How will Branstad's idea go over?

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