WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Iowa Legislature To Focus On Budget

Des Moines, IA – There are two top priorities for the Iowa Legislature's 2010 session. One is keeping the current budget balanced until June 30 and the other is crafting a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

State Representative Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) says both will be extremely difficult given the financial shape of the state and declining revenues.

Kearns says legislation that does not involve economic development, public safety, and education will probably not be debated this year. That includes issues such as health care expansion and same-sex marriage.

Kearns believes some work can still be done to the current budget. He says one area is shifting the funding for the Highway Patrol to the Department of Transportation budget.

The move would clear up about $50-million in the general fund, but would cut city and county funding for road projects.

Kearns says an increase in the gasoline tax could also be discussed. He says he would consider an increase, though not as large as the $0.08 currently be proposed.

Kearns says the 2010 session will also be shorter, by about 20 days. He says the downsizing will save the state money and could promote quicker discussions about the state's finances.