Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 6, 2013

The Sinclair Report

Sen. Amy Sinclair
Sinclair Press

Des Moines —  

If your annual disposable family income was $100,000, would you dare to spend $111,000 every year? The reasonable answer would be no because common sense dictates that over a period of time your family could not sustain that kind of over-spending.

I shared repeatedly the need for fiscal responsibility in the 12 months prior to becoming a State Senator. My feeling on that topic has not wavered since taking my oath in January. We have begun budget discussions, and let’s just say the Senate Democrats are continuing down the path of over-spending. Did you know in the last six years, the budget of Iowa, passed by the legislature, has increased by a third?  According to U.S. Census figures, the median income in Iowa has risen just 13 percent over that same period.  

If our government is spending 33 percent more and collecting 13 percent more from folks then the way I see it one budget line item that likely will be going up is for purchasing 55-gallon barrels of red ink.

The Senate Democrat budget spends 11 percent more than last year - roughly $100 million more than the state takes in on an ongoing basis.  In addition, their budget uses one-time money for ongoing programs. The Senate Democrat budget and long-range plan to grow the footprint of government is irresponsible and unsustainable and not a sound plan for Iowa.

The Revenue Estimating Conference met recently to discuss the state’s financial situation. Senate Republicans were encouraged by the announcement that revenue estimates were up to $6.87 billion for FY 2014; however, I urge fiscal restraint on budgetary practices and caution against growing government by irresponsibly spending the excess revenue.

I believe excess revenue is an over-collection of taxes.  I would like to see any over-collection of taxes returned to Iowa’s hard-working families, either directly or through addressing deteriorating infrastructure that will prevent property and fuel taxes from skyrocketing.  Excess revenue should not be spent on new programs or expanding old ones.

We need to make sure that we are cautious in our spending, keeping our budgeting principals in place.  Even though Iowa has excess revenues, we need to pass a budget that spends less than we take in on an ongoing basis, does not rely on one-time funding for ongoing programs, and does not purposefully underfund state programs. 

The House and Senate have been working on appropriations bills, and we’ll be debating their merits in the days to come. It is vital we continue to exercise fiscal restraint regarding budget management in order to maintain a healthy ending balance. In doing this, I support making good on our promises to our local governments by fully funding all tax credits. In contrast, Senate Democrats see healthy revenue estimates as a green light to grow the footprint of government.

I always look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me at amy.sinclair@legis.iowa.gov. You can also join me for a local forum in your county.