Government

Reynolds won't rule out more cuts for higher education

With only weeks to go in fiscal year, budget is $75 million short

The Grand Stairway at the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The Grand Stairway at the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to keep her cards close to the vest as she considers end-of-the-fiscal-year budget decisions in the face of lower than expected revenue collections.

Wednesday at the University of Iowa, the new governor continued to say cuts — if needed — would be made selectively but declined to say if any area of the state’s $7.26 billion general fund budget would be spared.

“We’re going to take a look at everything,” she said after hearing a presentation on the UI’s growing use of biomass as an energy source.

“We’re not going to speculate on what that’s going to look like because I don’t know right now,” she said. “It fluctuates day-to-day.”

Asked about higher education, Reynolds reiterated it’s too early to make promises. Lawmakers already reduced funding for the UI and Iowa State University by 6 percent and the University of Northern Iowa by 3 percent.

“Right now, it wouldn’t do anybody any good to speculate because we don’t know what the numbers are and what the options are,” she said.

Reynolds is working with Dave Roederer and Courtney Kaye Decker, directors of the departments of management and revenue, respectively.

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“They’re looking at our options. They’ll be presenting those options to us in the near future,” she said.

Her options are limited. State law requires a balanced budget and the fiscal year ends June 30.

Reynolds said her administration is looking at opportunities to grow the state’s economy — and state revenues.

“I’m leading a trade mission to China in July. Hopefully, that’s another opportunity for us to bring investment and to grow our market share for our economy,” said Reynolds, who became governor two weeks ago.

The state Department of Revenue reported taking in $966.3 million in gross tax receipts in May — the largest revenue month, given the April 30 deadline for filing personal income tax returns. But that total was 6.2 percent below the $1.03 billion collected the previous fiscal year, according to the Legislative Services Agency.

Coupled with a spike in state tax refunds, the state’s balance sheet was $75.1 million short of the projected 2.8 percent growth in tax revenue.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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