Governor's Recommended Budget Cuts Could Mean Lackluster Efforts for Water Quality
by Kerri Johannsen on Thursday, January 19, 2017
Governor Branstad unveiled his budget recommendations last week for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 as well as Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. A decline in tax revenues in the second half of the current fiscal year (FY 2017) has led to a shortfall in the General Fund of about $100 million. This large difference must be accounted for, which means cuts. While the proposal preserves tax credits for solar and other renewables and funding for many programs important for natural resources protection, it also contains significant cuts to the administrative budgets of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for the rest of FY 2017. IEC has serious concerns that such cuts would undermine attempts to protect public health and administer current funding to preserve natural resources efficiently and effectively.
In FY 2018 the Governor’s budget proposal does call for increased funding for the Water Quality Initiative - a good thing. However, it does not restore cuts to the DNR and IDALS budgets proposed for this year and is not nearly adequate to the challenges facing our soil and water. The Governor has also endorsed as a starting point the House water quality funding bill from the 2016 Session. This approach does not raise new revenues for water quality, but redirects funds from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund and the tax on metered water which currently go to fund other priorities.
It is important to remember that the Governor’s proposal is just the first plan on the table. The Legislature is ultimately responsible for passing a budget. As legislators consider their own plans for making up the General Fund shortfall and funding state priorities for the next two fiscal years, the IEC urges lawmakers to:
- Continue to invest in the renewable energy sector.
- Make a long-term, dedicated and sustainable investment to improve soil health and water quality and take advantage of the economic development opportunities tied to outdoor recreation.
- Maintain critical funding for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and programs that protect our soil, water and air and support renewable energy and rural economic development.
The Council will be watching for budget recommendations from the Iowa House and Senate and will be advocating for stronger solutions to address our increasing water quality problems.
- iowa legislature
- water quality