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Gov. Culver drops the ball

By Staff | Oct 29, 2009

Iowa faces a state budget crisis because revenues for 2010 will apparently be almost $415 million less than Gov. Chet Culver and Democrats who control the Legislature said they expected when this year’s state budget was adopted. The news for 2011 is even worse – a $1 billion shortfall is now projected.

Any serious assessment of the economic conditions that existed as 2009 began would have concluded that revenue would almost certainly fall short of what would be needed to finance the budget Democrats rammed through the Legislature. Republicans warned that the budget’s revenue assumptions were more fantasy than reality. Most Democrats ignored those concerns.

Unfortunately, Culver chose to pretend that the state government’s economic woes could be finessed rather than addressed. He allowed the Legislature to adopt a budget based on revenue estimates that were horribly unrealistic. As a result, the state government now is faced with responding with massive layoffs to a revenue shortfall that could have been foreseen.

Culver’s failure to show the political courage to insist that the Legislature budget frugally in these hard economic times has turned what would have been a difficult set of choices into a catastrophe. The chance for carefully weighing priorities in budget-cutting decisions has been lost. The governor did not lead. The well-being of all Iowans is now threatened by that grievous failure.

The across-the-board spending cuts now being implemented are terrible public policy. Programs and personnel that are essential to the state’s well-being are being targeted in equal measure with those that are less vital. Because the governor has allowed a crisis to develop, he is undertaking emergency measures that could have been avoided if he and Democrats in the Legislature had done their jobs earlier this year.

Iowans deserve a governor and legislators who are willing to make the tough decisions that are fundamental to wise use of taxpayer dollars. This governor and his party’s leaders apparently aren’t up to that challenge.

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