On the first day of the new fiscal year last Monday, Gov. Terry Branstad slashed the $3.31 billion state budget across-the-board to eliminate a $104 million deficit.

Under Iowa law, the governor has the power to make across-the-board cuts in state spending without legislative approval to ensure a balanced budget, as required by the state constitution.

Gov. Branstad explained that the action was prompted by the latest projections that show state revenues off by $104 million from the estimates the Legislature was using when it passed the budget.

"This is a substantial cut in state expenditures," the governor writes. "However, by taking this action now -- at the outset of the fiscal year -- the impact can be better absorbed and adjustments made over a longer period."

Paulee Lipsman, an aide to House Speaker Bob Arnould, D-Davenport, said legislators generally agreed that the Republican governor's actions were warranted in light of the new revenue projections.

She added the Legislature might try to make some shifts in the cuts when they return in January.

Richard Vohs, a spokesman for the governor, said the move could mean the elimination of 200 of 42,000 state jobs.

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