Governor Chet Culver Presents His Budget Proposals


chetIowa Gov. Chet Culver’s budget recommendation includes initiatives to attract and retain quality teachers, increase access to health care, and to make Iowa a leader in renewable energy.
The Governor signed House File 1, raising the minimum hourly wage to $7.25 by next Jan. 1. In his budget address, he proposed raising teacher pay to the national average, and he asked for funding to initiate a plan to provide access to preschool for every four-year-old in the state.
Similar to the Plan for Prosperity, the Governor seeks to provide enough funding to the state universities so that tuition doesn’t increase faster than the rate of inflation.
Iowa State Rep. for the 86th district, Cindy Winckler, spoke about her education goals in a statement about Gov. Culver’s budget.
“My goal is to make sure our schools are safe for everyone to learn and prosper. Teachers and staff need support to make sure students are not victims of any form of emotional, verbal or physical abuse at school. We all know that students cannot perform their best when they are victims of a hostile school environment.” Rep. Winckler said.
Culver called for creation of an “Iowa Power Fund” to finance cutting-edge research and technology in renewable energy sources. His goal, in line with the Plan for Prosperity, is to smooth the way for Iowa businesses to take the lead in development of ethanol-based biofuels, wind     energy, solar energy, and other emerging technologies.
The Governor has also made a recommendation to raise the cigarette tax by a dollar a pack. While the primary goal is to stop kids from smoking and saving lives, the increased revenue can be used to fund health initiatives. In this regard, the Governor calls for expanding the children’s health insurance program and the Medicaid program to cover an additional 17,000 Iowans-mostly children- who currently have no insurance coverage of any kind.
Culver is proposing additional state funding for veterans programs, child care, drug task forces, water quality, community economic development, child abuse and neglect prevention, and other programs.
The Governor planned to cut down budget gimmicks and tricks. He recommended a budget of $5.75 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1, an increase of $400 million above the current fiscal year’s projected spending. He proposes to invest $25 million to buy-down commercial property tax rates raising rates on residential or agricultural property.
The House passed House File 5 this week to limit the interest rates charged on loans secured by a vehicle title. These “car title loans” currently up to 260 percent interest, and prey on those who can least afford it. This legislation would prohibit any loan secured by a car title from charging higher than 21 percent interest, the same limitation that state law already places on other types of consumer loans.

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