Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Culver announces cuts, says his salary might be next

from the December 9, 2008 Des Moines Register

EDITORIAL NOTE: It appears that the current round of cuts will leave education untouched. We are assured from our friends--Governor Culver, Senator Gronstal & Speaker Murphy--that education remains a top-priority. This promise to Iowa's students and schools by the policy makers that we elected will hold our schools harmless.

Iowa will cut $77 million from its budget by freezing most new hiring, halting out-of-state travel, reducing purchases and by making cuts to the state’s public universities, Gov. Chet Culver announced today.

Included in the total is the indefinite delay of construction of a new $37 million state office building to replace the Wallace Building. Culver said he will ask the Legislature to retract the appropriation during its session that begins Jan. 12.

Culver also said he would be willing to take a pay cut, specifically if other state employees face the same action. He noted that he vetoed a legislative proposal earlier this year that would have given him a nearly $12,600 raise to his current $130,000 annual salary.

“I’m prepared to take a step if I need to sacrifice along with other state employees in the future and that might be necessary,” Culver said today at the Iowa Taxpayers Association annual meeting in West Des Moines.

The nearly $7 million cuts to state universities amounts to roughly 1 percent of the state’s allocations. Regents will have to make decisions about what is cut, Culver said.

More cuts might be on the way, he added. Much of that depends upon budget estimates to be established Friday by the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference.

The state was expected to end its budget year with $85 million in its general fund, but budget officials' calculations show the state will have only about $5 million when the fiscal year ends June 30.

Here's the breakdown of budget cuts that the governor's office released in a statement today:

• Freeze personnel vacancies and new temporary positions, unless approved by Department of Management (DOM), and reduce the amount of overtime.
SAVINGS: $12.6 million

• Freeze out-of-state travel, unless approved by DOM, and reduce in-state travel.
SAVINGS: $1.5 million

• Reduce equipment purchases, service contracts and office supplies.
SAVINGS: $5 million

• Cuts in spending by the Regents Institutions, Judicial Branch, and Legislature.
SAVINGS: $8.9 million

• Transfers made to General Fund since the last Revenue Estimating Conference meeting.
SAVINGS: $12 million

• Request the legislature to de-appropriate funding for a new state office building.
SAVINGS: $37 million

TOTAL: $77 million

In total, the cuts amount to roughly ½ a percent of the state’s $6.1 billion budget.

“It’s nice that the executive branch acknowledged the fiscal crisis we have at stand and, more importantly, we appreciate there are steps being put in place,” said Ed Wallace, president of the taxpayers association.