Last night Governor Chet Culver announced that his budget proposal will cut most state programs by 6.5%. The governor said that he wanted to spare public safety, workforce development, human services, disaster relief, the teacher quality program, and early childhood education from a full 6.5% cut.
Just because a program is popular or worthy of funding doesn’t mean there is no wasteful spending occurring in it. For example, I’ve been in support of immediate flood relief; you know a package that funds the rebuilding and recovery process; not sneaks things like forced unionization language in the bill. The Culver and the Democrats have been good at making promises, but they have also been good at dragging their feet. People are still waiting. But the reason flood relief shouldn’t be spared from the budget cuts is simple, Culver is funding bureaucracy with it, we need to stop that and get the money directly to the people.
The same is true in any government program; there is waste to be found everywhere, so let’s do the hard work of finding it and getting rid of it. I think Culver’s approach is clumsy and might not generate good results. Using his approach we are probably going to cut some muscle and leave a bunch of fat.
There is no better time for Legislative Republicans to stand up and lead. Everyone but Mike Gronstal knows that we have a $600 to 750 million dollar hole in the FY2010 budget, so instead of sitting back and seeing what Culver proposes to cut, we need to tell the people of Iowa what we would do. This is the time when elections will be won or lost, not on some fall day in 2010. We must prove to the Iowa voters that they should trust us to lead. We do so by showing them.
Last night Steve Deace had a great segment on his radio show that everyone should listen to. Like him or not, his plead for Republicans to lead was right on. We can’t just be against something, we can’t be too cute by half, and expect the voters to reward us with their trust. We must always be advancing our conservative, free market principles. That means when Culver wants to sell the lottery, we don’t propose selling it to someone else, that’s not the issue. The issue is fixing Iowa’s budget, so instead of floating the idea of selling it to IPERS (which could come back to bite us in the ass) we should have been finding areas in the budget to cut.
It’s not easy or glamorous work, but it’s necessary if you want the voters to trust you. I hope you give it a listen.