DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Terry Branstad kicked off a series of public budget hearings Friday to get input from state department heads.
Branstad heard from the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, the Iowa Board of Parole, the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and the Iowa Public Defender. Department representatives spoke about budget needs for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, as well as their ongoing goals.
Branstad said he wanted the feedback before finalizing a budget plan.
"I think it's important to hear from the departments and agencies and then we'll have a public hearing where we hear from the public," Branstad said.
Branstad will present a spending plan to the Legislature in January. The current budget includes nearly $6.5 billion in general fund spending, and the state has healthy reserve funds.
Revenues are holding steady in Iowa. Last month, a panel of budget experts predicted a slight increase in tax revenue for the current fiscal year. The group attributed the modest increase to a stable economy in Iowa, noting steady job growth and a healthy corporate sector.
The 2013 legislative session was one of the most successful in recent memory, with the governor and lawmakers reaching deals to cut property taxes, revise education policy and provide health care to more low-income residents. Branstad noted that the state must ensure there are sufficient resources to pay for those commitments in the coming budget year.