Iowa Senate Panel Approves Budget Bills, Without Numbers

(Radio Iowa) Senate Republicans say their overall target for state spending in the next budgeting year matches the one Governor Kim Reynolds proposed in January — but they’re still working on the details. Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee have voted to advance four bills with a general outline of WHERE money might be spent in dozens of state agencies, but no mention of HOW MUCH money should be spent. Senator Tim Kraayenbrink, a Republican from Fort Dodge, says the goal is to come to some agreement on these bills with House Republicans, who are proposing slightly more spending in certain areas.

“Our first intent would be to come to an agreed-upon amount as well as language,” Kraayenbrink says, “so that we could may substitute or amend or whatever needs to be done to get it off the floor and get out of here in a timely manner.” Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, says with the governor’s major realignment of state government operations underway, more scrutiny is necessary.

“I believe the public should have a chance to weigh in once they see the budget numbers,” Petersen says, “once they see which staff will be working for the state of Iowa and which won’t.” Senate Republicans say they’ve met with agency leaders to ask questions, get answers and set up a budget framework — but they’ll figure out the spending details later after negotiations with House Republicans and the governor. House Republicans released more detailed budget numbers last week and have held some public meetings with state officials to discuss government operations.