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BUDGETS ON THE MOVE

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The Legislature must pass eleven budget bills this year - and all but two are now in progress. Here is a quick run-down of where things are at, and some highlights of each budget:

  • Administration/Regulation Budget (Senate File 2342) has passed the Senate and is now being considered by the House.  This budget funds various state agencies, including funding for the Department of Inspections & Appeals (which inspects hospitals, nursing homes, care facilities), the Insurance Commissioner (which regulates health insurance and is helping roll-out the Affordable Care Act efforts), and the Secretary of State (which oversees voting and elections).

  • Agriculture/Natural Resources Budget (House File 2458) has passed the House and is now being considered by the Senate.  This bill funds things like water quality initaitives, state parks, and farm programs like the Easter Seals' Farmers with Disabilities Program ($130,000).

  • Economic Development Budget (House File 2460) has also passed the House and is now ready for Senate debate.  This bill provides money for workforce development, job training, economic development programs, and tourism.
  • Education Budget (Senate File 2347) isn't as far along in the process; it has not yet passed the Senate but is ready for debate.  This bill funds schools, Area Education Agencies (AEAs), community colleges, state universities, libraries, anti-bullying efforts, and Iowa's vocational rehabilitation services.  Included in this bill is a small increase for vocational rehabilitation ($320,000),  independent living services ($50,000), and Centers for Independent Living ($50,000).  The budget funds other programs at current levels, like the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program ($145,535).  Funding for the Department for the Blind, Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, and Iowa School for the Deaf are also included in this budget.
  • Health/Human Services Budget (House File 2463) became publict this week and was voted out of the House Appropriations Committee within hours of its release.  This bill funds Medicaid, regional MH/DS services, and much more (see next article for details).

  • Infrastructure Budget (Senate File 2349) also made its first appearance this week, and was voted out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It will have a new Senate File number soon (probably by the time many of you read this).  This budget spends gambling money from Iowa's casinos and lottery to pay for things like trails, state parks, public transportation, building construction and maintenance, environmental programs, airports, state government technology purchases, and other "infrastructure" types of projects. This year, the budget bill includes an additional $10 million for trails.

  • Judicial Branch Budget (House File 2449) provides money for Iowa's judicial branch (courts).  This bill is the farthest along in the process - it has passed both House and Senate, and is on its way to the Governor's office for final approval. The Governor can sign the bill, veto the bill, or veto parts of the bill he doesn't like (called a line-item veto).

  • Justice Systems Budget (House File 2450) has passed the House and is now being considered by the Senate.  This bill funds Iowa's prisons, community based corrections, victims services, Attorney General's Office, public defenders, law enforcement acadamy, fire fighters, state patrol, and other public safety programs.  This year, there is a new $25,000 appropriation for the Department of Public Safety to review and provide more public education on the Endangered Person Advisory Alert System that lets law enforcement and the public know when a person with a cognitive disorder has gone missing.  This could be a person with an intellectual disability, a person with a disease that affects their mental condition, or an older Iowan with Alzheimer's Disease.

  • Transportation Budget (Senate File 2130) is very near final passage in the House.  The bill funds Iowa's Department of Transportation and other transportation-related programs, mostly from the Road Use Tax Fund which is earmarked for road construction and bridge maintenance.

 That leaves only two budget bills yet to come out - the "Standings" bill that is always one of the last budgets to emerge and makes appropriations for programs that are required by law (like property tax credits) and the mysterious "Debt Reduction Act" that is new this year and will pay off $100 million in state debt and spend another $100 million (or so) on one-time or short-term projects. You can see details of all of the budget bills as they are amended and changed here (just make sure you select the documents with the most current date).