Groups urge Iowa House to spend surplus instead of cutting budget

Students at Iowa State, the University of Iowa and UNI want the state to spend cash reserves instead of cutting the budget. So do other interest groups. 

That's the underlying message brought to legislators at a public hearing on SF 2117.  The Iowa Senate passed the bill, which makes cuts from this year's budget to state agencies due to the lower amount of state tax revenue this year.

The Iowa Senate voted to cut the Iowa Board of Regents a total of $14.5 million dollars, allowing the Regents and the state Department of Management to figure out what budgets it will be cut from. An amendment to the bill in the Iowa House would lower that to just over $8.1 million.  

Students told the hearing that any cut to the budget will mean higher tuition and make it tougher for college students to stay in the state.

Meanwhile, in the Iowa Senate, Democratic Leader Rob Hogg told his colleagues today there's another consequence of budget cutting.  Hogg says "we are not funding public safety, we are not funding corrections," citing the fact that the state has over $900 million dollars in cash reserves for emergencies. 

Hogg also claimed that legislative fiscal staff told him there's nearly a billion more in unobligated funds the legislature could transfer money out of instead of cutting programs like corrections.  

Republican Sen. Mark Chelgren responded, saying he voted to do the "responsible" thing and cut funds to the programs that can sustain them, while holding public school education harmless.  But Hogg and other Democrats say the "Branstad-Reynolds" administrations have refused to recognize the need to fund these programs.

Chelgren also pointed out that the Senate was controlled by Democrats before last year. 

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