Iowa Has $800 Million Surplus

Of course, having learned nothing over the past decade, politicians want to figure out how to spend it


When Iowa lawmakers convene next month, they're going to find a bunch of dollar bills burning a hole in their collective legislative pocket.

Like, somewhere around 800 million of them.

A strong state economy and modest budgeting over the last few years have allowed the accumulation of a massive budget surplus — the Legislative Services Agency now pegs it at $804.6 million — that will be available to lawmakers to spend on, well, pretty much whatever they want.

But as you might expect, when it comes to spending four-fifths of a billion dollars, just about everybody has a different idea. Republicans favor some kind of tax break to return "over-collections" to the taxpayers. Democrats see opportunities for increased school funding. Business groups have their eyes on more generous tax breaks. Progressive groups want more environmental and social-services funding.