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Budget Targets Announced

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State government budgeting is a session-long process. It starts with the Governor presenting his budget requests.  Then each of the seven budget subcommittees meets twice (sometimes three times) a week to learn more about each item in their budget.  Subcommittees hear testimony from experts and interest groups on various issues.  But they cannot really take action until their leaders tell them how much money they will have to spend on their area of the budget.

Last week, the House and Senate both introduced their "budget targets"- the amount of money each budget subcommittee will have to spend on programs and services in their area.  But don't expect there to be too much detail in these targets - how the money is divided up is a decision of the budget subcommittee. 

House Republicans want to increase spending by 3%; the Governor asked for a 4% increase, and Senate Democrats want 11% more for next year.  

  • Senate Budget Targets can be found here.
  • House Budget Targets can be found here.

The House Appropriations Committee plans to move out their versions of the eight main budget bills this week - Administration/Regulation, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Economic Development, Education, Health/Human Services, Judiciary, Justice Systems, and Transportation.   Two other budget bills come out much later in session - Standings (required spending set in law) and Infrastructure (gambling dollars for special projects).  While the House plans to get their bills out onto the calendar soon, don't expect them to be in a rush to do anything with them.   The Senate plans to do the same with their versions of the budgets. 

The budget negotiation process is long, so legislators are just getting their initial bills in position so the talks can begin.  Agreement is easy in some areas, while others (like Health/Human Services) always seem to be among the last bills passed in the session.

Of note:

  • The Governor's budget does not expand Medicaid as allowed in the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") and does not include money for non-Medicaid services delivered by the new regional mental health and disability services (MH/DS) system. 

  • House Republicans do not include a Medicaid expansion (they were waiting to hear more about the Governor's alternative plan) but does include $29.8 million to pay for non-Medicaid MH/DS services.  This $29.8 million was promised to counties last year when the MH/DS redesign passed.  It funds the "Per Capita Equalization Fund" that ensures each county/region has $47.28 per person to spend on services to people living in their area. 
  • The budget proposed by Senate Democrats expands Medicaid to cover 150,000 low income Iowans and includes $29.8 million for the regional MH/DS system. The Senate plan does not address how that $29.8 million will be distributed - some say they are not thrilled with the "$47.28 per capita distribution formula" established in the MH/DS Redesign passed last year.  In addition, their funds for MH/DS services come from the budget surplus, which could be a challenge for funding in later years.