Budget

Iowa Has $800 Million Surplus

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

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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.