Yepsen on Politics is a weekly Q&A with Iowa Press producers and David Yepsen, host of IPTV’s Iowa Press. This week we cover Iowa revenue woes, budget advice for lawmakers, and Steve King's latest controversy.
IOWA'S REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE RAISED EYEBROWS AND THE RAINY DAY FUND IS NOW IN PLAY....WHO IS TO BLAME?
Andrew Batt, IPTV Senior Producer: Iowa's Revenue Estimating Conference met this past week and signaled another downgrade of Iowa tax revenue. Branstad is likely to revise budget recommendations for 2018 while the state pulls more than $100 million out of the rainy day fund. Has the Branstad administration mishandled the Iowa budget and do these numbers often rattle the legislature?
David Yepsen, Host of Iowa Press: No, it's not been mishandled by policy makers.
Everyone was too optimistic so they have to suck it up for a few years.
Actually, Iowa's reserves are among the best in the country and the state is considered well managed. That said, the Dems have a point about how tax credits bleed dollars. Statehouse politicians should spend as much time debating "tax expenditures" like tax breaks, credits, and exemptions each year just like they debate "tax spending" like appropriations. Why do appropriations have to be renewed annually but tax expenditures don't?
It sounds like even some Republicans are asking that question in light of this March surprise.
ADVICE FOR A GOVERNOR WITH LOW UNEMPLOYMENT BUT BUDGET WOES?
Batt: The Iowa unemployment rate stands at 3.3% and we are still having trouble balancing our budgetary books. As someone that has seen our state's economy rise up and down during the past few decades....what is your advice to a new Governor (Kim Reynolds) taking the reigns during this time?
Yepsen: Always use the most pessimistic assumptions in making budgets and spending requests to the Legislature.
If you are correct, the pain of appropriating less money is less than the pain of having to go back into a budget and make cuts.
If you are wrong and there is a surplus, that'll look good to voters in an election year and you'll have some cash to pass around or use to cut taxes.
STEVE KING IS STEVE KING....
Batt: Congressman Steve King was a national storyline for his tweets about "somebody else's babies" last week. Is there any realistic chance this impacts his congressional career as an elected official? Should Iowa republicans do anything about it?
Yepsen: No. Nothing the GOP can do. Yes, it was just Steve King being Steve King.
He's in a safe seat and the only way he gets beat is in a primary. Having covered King in the state senate, I've always wished he'd spend more time working on the boring meat and potato, workhorse issues like farm bills, road construction, and economic growth and less on the high profile social and cultural stuff.
He probably does but doesn't get much media attention for that basic work of any U.S. Representative since we media people love King on immigration better than King on infrastructure.