It is a simple line in the Iowa Constitution, found in Article III, Section 24:
“Appropriations. SEC. 24. No money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”
Most years, nobody would give it a second thought. Textbook civics. But 2011 is no ordinary year. It’s making us think outside the textbook.
In short: What happens if there is no budget agreement by the July 1 start of the fiscal year? A succinct Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder on the topic illustrates a few of the potential effects of a shutdown — at least several concerns that certainly should be addressed. While no one presumably wants to see a state shutdown, the thought of it does show why our public structures matter to everyone in the state, and why a shutdown would hurt. Already we can expect cutbacks in several areas — education and environmental quality enforcement among them — even without a shutdown.
While Governor Branstad’s chief spokesman dismisses such discussion as “hysterical hypotheticals,” common sense would suggest to anyone with a calendar that it’s worth thinking about.
And, in fairness to the Governor’s spokesman, the Governor may be thinking about it: “Our focus remains on the efforts necessary to continue the operations of state government rather than shutting it down.” The Governor himself indicated to the media that if necessary, a temporary bill could be passed until a final agreement is reached.
The latter would presumably meet the dictates of Article III, Section 24. And it would be nice to know how specifically our elected officials plan to do so — which services would continue, and which would be cut back, if the budget haggling goes on.
It is, after all, our business. The politicians are only the hired help.
Posted by Mike Owen, Assistant Director