Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs made his mark on Mount Vernon. Many in town made their mark on him, too. Wirfs and his mother, Sarah, took The Gazette on a tour of his hometown, revisiting scenes around what essentially is the one square mile where he grew up. This story is a little about what can hold you back. This is mostly about what moves you forward.

Legislature

Branstad signs nearly $118 million in state budget adjustments

Cuts needed by June 30

People walk down the staircase at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
People walk down the staircase at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad on Wednesday signed a GOP-passed measure designed to head off a projected state budget shortfall by making $117.8 million in midyear spending adjustments slated to take place by June 30.

Senate File 130, which passed the Senate 28-19 and the House 58-38 on party-line votes last month, included $88.2 million in targeted cuts and $25 million in fund transfers to balance the fiscal 2017 ledger. The current-year budget adjustments were precipitated by lackluster revenue growth blamed on a sagging farm economy that threw out of balance the $7.2 billion spending plans passed by last year’s split-control Legislature and signed by Branstad.

Among the cuts are $18 million to the regent universities — $8 million each at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University and $2 million for the University of Northern Iowa — $3 million for community colleges, $5.5 million for correctional facilities, $4.5 million for the state Department of Education, $3 million for the court system, $1 million for public safety and $11.5 million in reduce executive branch operations.

Branstad did not use his line item-veto power to change any of the provisions in Senate File 130.

“Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I appreciate that the first bill passed by the Iowa Legislature responsibly balances the budget for fiscal year 2017,” Branstad said in a statement.

“As I said in my Condition of the State address, these adjustments are required by law,” he continued. “I’m pleased that the Legislature made the tough decisions early in the session exempting K-12 education funding, Medicaid payments and property tax backfill for local governments from reduction, providing stability for Iowa schools, businesses and families.”

Minority Democrats argued the cuts would hit hard on college students and programs intended to address the state’s skilled worker shortage, quality of life and public safety when there were other options available to address the unexpected shortfall.

Last week, officials in the Iowa judicial branch announced that 1,446 employees in the state’s court system would be taking an unpaid furlough day on May 26 which would save an estimated $364,573 as part of the courts’ $3 million reduction in spending through June 30.

Money also was transferred from several economic development accounts and $6.1 million was scooped from the state’s cultural trust fund to erase the projected shortfall.

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