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Legislature is Adjourned – Homeward Bound!
On Friday June 6th, the legislature adjourned for the year. We were able to work together and find common ground with the Governor and the Senate to take care of Iowans’ priorities.
For the 5th year in a row, the Iowa legislature fulfilled its commitment to Iowans to not spend more than the state takes in, to keep ongoing expenses within ongoing revenue, and to fund one-time expenses with one-time revenue, like the year’s ending balance. Maintaining this commitment was very difficult this year, so I consider this an incredibly significant accomplishment.
Iowans are sending $7.184 billion to state government coffers for FY 16. That is a tremendous amount of money. Spending more than they are sending to the state sets hardworking taxpayers up for either future budget cuts or a tax increase. Instead of that, the legislature should simply live within its means.
People work so hard to earn their money and so we must protect the families who go to work, play by the rules, and pay their taxes to support our state’s government. We demonstrate respect for them when we practice fiscal responsibility. Every dollar of theirs the legislature overspends puts the financial security of those taxpayers and families at risk and jeopardizes the stability of our state’s programs in the area of education, health and human services, and public safety. Responsible budgeting ensures Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens have resources they can depend on next year and the year after.
It is important to Iowans that the legislature does not spend more than we have and live within our means. That is something the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa do every day. Government needs to do the same.
Managing Medicaid this session presented a significant challenge. We are spending $151 million additional dollars on Medicaid with this year’s budgets. Medicaid is on a collision course with other priorities like education, public safety, workforce training, and a competitive tax climate. We worked to put policies into place that contain costs and at the same time make sure our resources go to the most needy Iowans. The new managed care system of Medicaid privatization being put in place will help us deliver services more efficiently for the dollars spent. A committee will be established to provide oversight of new system. The Medicaid electronic asset verification system we passed this year will help ensure benefits are going to those intended.
Quick Budget Facts
Total On-Going State Revenue: $7.1847 billion
Total On-Going State Expenditures: $7.1752 billion
Percent of On-Going Revenues Expended: 99.87 percent
Rate of Revenue Growth: 2.6%
Rate of Spending Increase over Last Year: 2.5%
FY 15 Projected Ending Balance: $285.4 million (after one-time expenditures taken out)
Amount Expended from the FY 15 Ending Balance: $134.9 million
Percent of Available Revenues Expended Under the 99% Expenditure Limitation Law: 97.48%
Projected FY 16 Cash Reserve (used to cash flow the state): $560 million
Projected FY 16 Economic Emergency Fund: $186.7 million
Projected FY 16 Ending Balance: $262.8 million
The following are appropriated spending increases:
K-12 Schools: 1.25% Supplemental State Aid ($50 million) in the base aid, One-Time Expense from the Ending Balance: $55.7 million, and Teacher Leadership Compensation Categorical Installment: $50 million
Medicaid: FY 15 Supplemental One-Time Expense from the Ending Balance - $43 million; $108 million – includes new increase and savings found within Medicaid itself
Debt Repayment Fund: For future debt retirement a one-time $10 million payment from the Ending Balance was appropriated.
University of Northern Iowa: $5.1 million into the base and $1.1 million one-time expense from the ending balance
Iowa State University: $1.2 million into the base and $2.3 million one-time expense from the ending balance
University of Iowa: no increase to the base but a $2.9 million one-time expense from the ending balance
Community Colleges: no increase to the base but a $2.5 million one-time expense from the ending balance
Medicaid Rebase Funding: $17 million for nursing homes, $1 million for home health, and $1 million for HCBS providers
Soil Conservation Programs: total is $9.4 million
Water Quality Initiative: $9.6 million total
REAP: $16 million total
Policy Highlights from Budget Bills
The following are brief highlights of policy changes in our budget bills. More will follow in future newsletters.
Pro-Life: It will become Iowa law that a woman seeking an abortion must be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound image of her unborn baby as part of the standard of care. It will also become law that the woman must be provided information regarding the options relative to a pregnancy, including keeping the baby and adopting the baby out. Capitol observers say this is the most substantial pro-life change to the Iowa Code in over a decade.
Mental Health Institutes: Clarinda MHI will stay open until the end of the year. Then it will transition to a private provider to deliver the same services it offers now at that location. Additional funding from one-time monies will be provided to make this transition. Mount Pleasant MHI will continue to offer the same services and function as it is currently operating.
County Mental Health Funding: The Medicaid offset or “clawback” has been repealed. This money will now remain with the counties. The property tax levy provision, distribution formula, and equalization payment continues through FY 17.
Eminent Domain: Private property rights were strengthened significantly with a number of new provisions in Iowa law. The bill clarified the procedures and requirements regarding condemned property. The bill also limits the amount of land that can be condemned to make a lake for drinking water. This provision was designed to address a very imminent situation in Iowa where a county wants to use eminent domain to condemn private land to create a lake that would possibly have a recreational use in addition to a public water source use. Unfortunately we could not find agreement with the Senate to address the eminent domain threat posed by the Rock Island Clean Line electric transmission line or the Bakken oil pipeline. Work will continue on that.
Human Trafficking: Ongoing funding was found and appropriated to implement enhanced human trafficking training for members of the public, law enforcement, PSAP’s, and the courts. We also raised the penalty for human trafficking.
Iowa Tuition Grant: The Iowa Tuition Grant cap was increased from $5000 to $6000 but we were not able to provide an increase in funding.
Income Tax Refund Fraud: Provisions were passed helping protect Iowans from having their income tax refunds stolen by identity theft.
2nd Amendment: Regrettably, we could not find agreement with the Senate to advance gun rights for Iowans. We will continue to work on that.
Feel free to contact me with ideas, thoughts, and concerns. My phone is 319-987-3021 or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear what you are thinking and will listen to your input. Together we will work to make a difference for the future of Iowa. Thank you very much for the honor of representing you!