Thanks to a $1.2-million budget cut, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced it is eliminating several prominent positions and dissolving its Bureau of Forestry. The announcement comes days after Iowa’s new fiscal year started.
The budget cut was approved by the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature earlier this year.
The agency confirmed this week that it is jettisoning eight positions, including state geologist and animal feeding operations coordinator. Their duties will be shifted to others within the department or replaced with contract hires. The state also ended a federally-aided program for the improvement of parks.
The DNR also said it will close the Bureau of Forestry, jettisoning the top bureau chief position, and reorganize others. On top of that, the DNR eliminated a program that helps maintain Iowa’s trails. The department also ended its participation in the AmeriCorps program.
Staff at the DNR were alerted to the drastic decision by e-mail.
“Due to a $1.2 million dollar reduction in our general fund budget, plus increased salary costs,” the e-mail reads. It also noted that the existing hiring freeze will remain in effect.
Despite the staff reduction and loss of services, DNR spokesman Alex Murphy said no services will be affected by the changes, “I would also like to make it very clear that the organizational changes made will have no impact on the services that we provide to the public or other agencies. We will provide the same great services Iowans have come to expect from the DNR over the years.”
While the DNR is on the receiving end of a $1.2 million budget cut, the state of Iowa is dealing with a projected budget shortfall of $350 million. State leaders have already made several rounds of emergency budget cuts to deal with the shortfall. This includes making $118 million in cuts to programs and services and transferring $131 million from the state’s emergency cash reserve funds.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and her administration blame the shortfall on the struggling agriculture industry, while Democrats say tax cuts have diverted too much money away from valuable resources for state programs.
“Iowa DNR Announces Layoffs to Offset Budget Cut,” U.S. News, July 5, 2017,
“Monthly General Fund Revenue Receipts Through June 30, 2017,” Iowa Legislative Services Agency, July 3, 2017.
“Budget Problems Cost State Workers Their Jobs,” WHO-TV, July 5, 2017.