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Candidates answer questions at forum

By MICHAEL LEACH, Ledger lifestyles editor | Sep 22, 2010

During the Meet the Candidates Forum sponsored by Van Buren Farm Bureau Wednesday at the Roberts Memorial Center in Keosauqua, the candidates for Iowa House District 90 and Iowa Senate District 45 fielded questions ranging from deer populations to term limits.

Running for Iowa House District 90 are Democratic incumbent Curt Hanson and Republican Steve Burgmeier, and Iowa Senate District 45 candidates include Democratic incumbent Becky Schmitz, Republican Sandy Greiner and independent candidate Doug Philips.

The candidates began the forum with a question of what they considered a balanced state budget.

For Greiner, a balanced budget is when the Legislature creates a budget that is within the 99 percent spending limitation. Furthermore, the Legislature should not be going into off-budget accounts to pay for things that they wanted to do but didn’t have the funds to do.

“I think that’s something that this Legislature has really slipped up on,” said Greiner. “I think it’s time we go back to a narrow definition of what a balanced budget is, and I believe the state of Iowa is not going to get its financial house in order until we have legislators who have the courage to vote no when no is the right answer to spending amendments.”

Burgmeier felt a balanced budget is one that the taxes brought in are more than or equal to the amount spent that year, and without borrowing funds from the federal government.

“We need to make sure that whatever we do at the state level doesn’t trickle down to the property taxpayer,” said Burgmeier.

Hanson stated this is the year that Iowa does have a balanced budget, adding that it was balanced much like a family would balance their own budget.

Using family as a metaphor for balancing the budget, Hanson explained the need to reduce expenditures when having a lower income. At the same time, he said, if the family has some budgetary items that need completed — if a child is in their last semester of college, for example — the family wouldn’t drop tuition. Instead, the family might pay the tuition with the money originally set aside for something such as painting the house.

“We do that as a family and we did that as a state. We do have a balanced budget, and we do have money in reserve,” he said.

Schmitz echoed Hanson’s words, saying the Legislature has saved more than $250 million during the past few years by becoming more efficient with information technology systems, the early-retirement program and other initiatives.

“We are a much leaner, much more streamlined government than we were before,” she said. “In fact, our current budget for this fiscal year is closer to the amount of the budget we had four years ago, so we really have reduced government.”

The conversation turned to hunting when the candidates were asked if they would introduce legislation to curb the excess deer population in southeast Iowa.

For the complete article, see the Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010, printed edition of The Fairfield Ledger.

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