Now in the fifteenth week

By Mike Klimesh

This week in the Senate looked very similar to last week as we worked on a number of issues prior to finishing the session for the year. Now in the fifteenth week, the Senate debated several bills, confirmed governor appointments to boards and commissions and continued work on budget bills.

This week in the Senate looked very similar to last week as we worked on a number of issues prior to finishing the session for the year. Now in the fifteenth week, the Senate debated several bills, confirmed governor appointments to boards and commissions and continued work on budget bills.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed Senate Study Bill 1269 this week, which includes policy initiatives Governor Reynolds addressed in her Condition of the State speech earlier in session. Senate Study Bill 1269 addresses future housing needs and a backlog of housing projects requiring support by providing a $15 million increase to the Workforce Housing Tax Credit Program. Additionally, it creates a new Manufacturing 4.0 Grant Program to help Iowa manufacturers compete globally and award financial assistance to manufacturers needing support. It also redesigns and updates the Energy Infrastructure Revolving Loan Program, a program largely unchanged since it started in the late 1990s, and provides financial assistance for the development and construction of energy infrastructure.
Affordable housing, especially in rural Iowa, has been an issue brought to senators by constituents. This bill is one way to address the issue, bring more people to rural Iowa and fill job openings in those areas of the state.
Senate Study Bill 1267 went through the Senate Appropriations Committee this week. This bill is the Health and Human Services budget and it appropriates $2.03 billion from the general fund, providing an increase of over $36 million for healthcare funding. When including Senate File 587, which provides a sustainable and predictable source of funding for mental health, that increase in healthcare funding jumps up to over $96 million. Senate File 587, now awaiting discussion in the House, eliminates the property tax levy for mental health and instead provides state funding for these important services. Elimination of the property tax levy gives Iowans over $100 million in property tax relief and state funding of mental health provides consistent revenue for a service that has become more important, especially after this last year. Additionally, eliminating a property tax levy provides continued tax relief for property taxpayers in the future.
Mental health funding and providing mental health services to Iowans who need them are regularly brought up to us. The budget we are working on reflects these priorities, while providing responsible funding amounts for priority areas such as education, health care and public safety.
Senate Study Bill 1267 includes another important policy crucial to ensuring public assistance programs are there for those who need them most. The Iowa Senate has advanced legislation to improve the implementation of welfare programs in the state by using technology to eliminate error, fraud and abuse in the system each of the last three years. This year it was included in the Senate version of the Health and Human Services budget bill.
In 2019, the state of Iowa was fined nearly $2 million because the error rate in administration of welfare benefits was impermissibly high and the state was determined to have overpaid benefits by $40 million. Senate Republicans eagerly implement policies to safeguard taxpayers from fraud and fines.  
Both SSB 1269 and SSB 1267 include language addressing the triggers put into place in the 2018 tax bill. The reason this policy is included not only in these bills, but in other bills passed this legislative session, is because Senate Republicans believe providing certainty about tax relief for Iowans and their families is important for their future plans and implements more meaningful pro-growth policy for Iowa.

A Personal Point
This week those of us in the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee worked hard to make sure that Iowa is properly funding these sectors and continuing to implement good changes to them. I am proud to serve on that subcommittee. As session is coming to a close soon, most of our committees have arisen. This means that we have met for the final time this session and will only meet after in the case of a special session. I am honored as always to continue representing the people in my district.

 

Submit A Comment

Fill out the form to submit a comment. All comments require approval by our staff before it is displayed on the website.

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments