Tuesday Reads — Lug Cuts Deep

Read his lips, no new taxes.

Everybody whose anybody carries news this morning of Gov. Chet Culver’s FY 2010 budget plan, which will cut most areas 6.5 percent and scoop $200 million from reserves to remain balanced. Culver focuses on the fact that his budget contains no new taxes.

However, The Gazette reports that although Culver is contributing only 2 percent of a promised 4 percent boost in K-12 school funding, he’s allowing districts to increase spending authority by the full 4 percent. That could mean a property tax increase for some Iowans, so the Culver’s plan is note exactly tax free.

AP’s Mike Glover notes that Culver’s no-tax insistence probably dooms legislative efforts to raise the gas tax. Instead, the governor is sticking with his $700 million infrastructure bonding proposal, paid for with casino revenues.

All stories report that not everything gets the 6.5 percent axe. Public safety, teacher pay, early childhood education and workforce development are among areas that will be spared from the full force of cuts. But 205 of 250 agencies/programs will take the full hit. Furloughs and layoffs are all but certain.

The Des Moines Register points out that Democratic legislative leaders did not exactly embrace the governor’s strategy. Dems say they’re willing to work with the governor. Republicans, such as House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, say they’re not sure Culver’s math adds up to a balanced budget.

Radio Iowa’s coverage includes a link to audio of Culver’s speech Monday to the Iowa Business Council, where he announced his plans. He goes to western Iowa today.

So what else is happening?  The state is releasing 15 sex offenders following an Iowa Supreme Court opinion last week ruling that offenders convicted before 2001 aren’t be subject to newer rules requiring them to participate in treatment programs or face a delay in their release.  The Gazette and The Register have coverage.

And hey, you want to meet Kevin Costner? He’ll be in Leland Wednesday, according to the Mason City Globe-Gazette. No, he’s not building another baseball diamond. Costner’s band Modern West is playing in a local barn.

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