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Capitol highlights

By Staff | Apr 25, 2014

You’re state government deals with 11 budget bills each year. Those 11 budget bills are: administration and regulation, agriculture and natural resources, economic development, education, health and human services, infrastructure, justice systems, judicial branch, transportation, standings, and standings II and debt reduction act.

The administration and regulation budget deals with 13 state agencies. One of those agencies has been on the news regularly; it deals with the current flap about some of the employees at the state house being relieved of their duties. Currently that budget has to come up on the Senate floor with a house amendment attached.

Agriculture and natural resources budget contains funds for things such as soil and water conservation, state parks, voluntary nutrient reduction strategy, and a host of other things dealing with agriculture and natural resources. The ag and natural resources budget will most likely go to conference committee.

The economic development budget funds initiatives such as work force development, workers compensation, funds for regent’s institutions for technology and infrastructure projects and the newly developed STEM initiative.

The education appropriation bill has most of the funds that are allocated to our regents colleges, community colleges, private colleges, and for profit colleges. That bill is currently in conference committee.

1.86 billion dollars is being spent on the health and human services budget this year. This budget covers things such as Hawk-I, mental health institutions, child care assistance, welfare, assistance to older Iowans to stay in their own homes as opposed to nursing facilities and a bunch of other programs. This bill is currently on the Senate floor with a Senate committee amendment. It will most likely end up in conference committee. This will be a slow one.

The infrastructure budget known as RIIF is used to help rebuild older buildings around the state. That budget is currently in a conference committee.

Currently the justice systems budget is in conference committee. The House added 30 highway patrolmen; the Senate reduced the number of highway patrolmen to four. The Senate is using the money in the reduction of highway patrolmen to fund more guards at our prisons. The task of the conference committee will be to find a compromise on that issue and some other things. Their compromise will be voted up or down, no more amendments.

Two budget bills have passed both the House and Senate; the judicial branch budget and the transportation budget. One of the initiatives put back into the transportation budget is funds for our freight rail system.

There are two bills that we have seen little or no action out of at this time; the standings budget and the standings II/debt reduction act. The standings budget contains the funds for our K-12 education system. The total budget will be about $3.3 billion with $2.87 billion set aside for K-12 schools. The standings II/debt reduction act will be funds used for buying back bonds that the state has issued in the past. This is a really good idea in my opinion as the interest saved on that debt will never have to be paid again.

By the time you read this I’m hoping to be done. It was estimated at first that we might have been done by early April. The last day we get paid per diem is April 22 and now it’s estimated that we won’t finish until May first.

This will be the last issue of capitol highlights. The past two years have gone by so quickly. I have met so many great people from this district, and across the state, which now I consider my friends. I am very honored that you gave me the opportunity to serve you, this district, and this state. Thank you!

I am still available to contact by email at tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov or at 515-538-0117.