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NEW BILL NUMBERS FOR MH/DS FUNDING

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The House and Senate continue to talk about funding for the regional mental health and disability services system.  Both want to find a way to fund this system, and make sure that funding is sustainable and equitable. 

  • Some members of the House have proposed a bill that would just extend the current system for another year (House File 2456), giving lawmakers more time to study the issue of funding.  Two counties do not have another year to wait, and are in dire need of funding this year.  To address that need, the Health/Human Services Budget (HF 2460) appropriates $3 million total to offset some of the shortfalls in funding in Polk County (which needs $7.1 million) and Scott County (which needs $1.6 million).  The Iowa State Association of Counties (which represents the MH/DS regions) opposes this approach, because it does not fix the problem and puts off a decision for another year (and after the election, when there are new legislators that may or may not know the issue). 

  • Some members of the Senate have proposed an alternative (Senate File 2318) that would create a permanent long-term fix to funding the regional mental health and disability services system. This bill would allow county boards of supervisors to set levy rates where they are needed to meet local needs, as long as they do not go above the current $47.28 per capita expenditure limit.  Under this scenario, property taxes in 73 Iowa counties would go down, and about 8 may be increased to meet new population demands.  The Iowa State Association of Counties, which supports this approach, says this bill saves $7 million in taxes statewide.  This happens because many small, rural counties are having to raise their property taxes to make up for larger urban counties in their regions that are frozen at a level that is too low to meet needs.  This approach is supported by Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa, Child & Famliy Policy Center, Easter Seals Iowa,  Epilepsy Foundation, Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Center, Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Iowa Association of Community Providers, Iowa Behavioral Health Association, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Iowa County Attorneys Association, Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Police Chief Association, Iowa Primary Care Association, Iowa Psychological Association, Iowa State Police Officers Council, Iowa State Reserve Law Officers Association, Iowa State Sheriffs & Deputies Association, League of Women Voters of Iowa, National Association of Social Workers (Iowa Chapter), National Multiple Scelrosis Society (Upper Midwest Chapter), Orchard Place, United Way of Central Iowa, Veterans' National Recovery Center, and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa.  The only opposing organization is Farm Bureau.