Capitol Update: Week 4

Senate Budget Targets

The Senate Majority released budget targets which spend about $70 million more than the state collects in on-going revenue. As a percentage, they spend 101.1% of on-going revenue.

The Senate did not release their plans on Medicaid savings or tax coupling or even a simple balance sheet which makes it difficult to see a complete picture of their spending plans.

As part of their targets they propose an early retirement plan that “saves” taxpayers $10.6 million. The House is extremely skeptical that is a reliable number.  Last session the Senate proposed a similar plan which resulted in zero savings.  It was rejected by the House budget negotiators.

The Senate are proposing a 4% increase in Supplemental State Aid for schools but the money necessary to fund that 4% increase is not included in their budget targets. To fund 4% they need to provide an additional $65.8 million in spending within the target for the Standings Bill.  But only $2.9 million more is provided.

That means either they have cut another area included in the Standings Bill – such as property tax credits – or they are willfully underfunding their 4% SSA increase and instead forcing property taxpayers to pay more to make up for their lack of funding.

News from District 96

We had the shortest week I can remember here in Des Moines. Business at the Capitol on Monday was cancelled to allow the legislators to be home for the Caucuses. Then Iowa weather canceled everything on Tuesday.  Sometime I think the news media over does things.  My trip to Des Moines early Tuesday was uneventful.  The Wednesday morning commute was a lot more slippery and hazardous but really was just normal winter driving.  With that said, it is way better to error on the safe side.

As you are aware by now the House has passed the Section 179 Coupling Bill. However, the Senate has not taken it up yet.  As this issue continues to move forward I will keep you updated. The Senate has given no indication on their plan for tax coupling which complicates and slows down the budget process.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to speak with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association when they came to the Capitol for their Legislative Reception and they served a meal. I had a chance to visit with the Board President for the Cattlemen, Phil Reemtsma.  He is also a veterinarian from DeWitt, Iowa.  We discussed a code clean-up bill that pertains to the Cattleman’s check-off.

Also on Wednesday we had the Agriculture Committee meeting where we passed HSB 519. This bill will provide tax credits for renewable fuels.  From here this bill will go on to the Committee on Ways and Means.

During the meeting Spencer Parkinson of Decision Innovation Solutions also presented the Economic Study on the Impact of Iowa Animal Agriculture. He spoke briefly about how the pork, poultry, and cattle industry has affected Iowa economically over the past year.  Animal Agriculture and the businesses that support it is a huge driver in Iowa’s economy.

That evening I attended the Iowa Newspaper Association Legislative Reception. While I was there I had a chance to visit with Mark Spensley from the Monticello Express.  We had a good conversation about the Newspaper Association.

As always if you have any comments or concerns feel free to get in touch. My number is (319)480-1997 and my email is lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov

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