Budget problems may dominate Iowa Legislature - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Budget problems may dominate Iowa Legislature

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DES MOINES (AP) -- When the Legislature convenes Jan. 12, lawmakers will face a short-term budget headache that is eclipsed only by long-range financial difficulties stretching into the future.

Not long ago, the state had a budget surplus. Now it faces big deficits.

Although the size of the shortfall is disputed, Republican state auditor David Vaudt estimates it at $600 million and GOP legislators claim it could be $700 million. Democrats say it might be a bit smaller but agree that it's big.

Gov. Chet Culver has already ordered $180 million in cuts for the current fiscal year.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs and House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque say it's going to be a tough year and it is unlikely there will be any money for new programs.

Republicans are predicting that Democrats will try to increase taxes to offset slowing tax collections but Democrats say a tax increase is unlikely.

Online Producer: Mike Verlo

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