When the Iowa Legislature adjourned last year, we passed a budget that was balanced based on revenue projections. Over the course of the first six months of the fiscal year, revenue has increased, but it did so at a much slower rate than anticipated. When we returned this year, it became our first order of business to adjust last year’s spending to again make sure the state spends less than it takes in. To that end, House Republicans have worked hard for several months to negotiate a bill that corrects the budget, sticks to our budgeting principles, and reflects the priority needs of Iowans.
Within the bill, state agencies are given flexibility to implement the reductions in the best way possible to avoid program disruptions that could impact the public. No one relishes in making these cuts, but they are necessary to keep our budget balanced. We anticipate that we will debate this bill on the floor early next week.
Education was a priority for our caucus during the budget reduction process. We were able to come to an agreement to protect K-12 education from any cuts and our reductions to higher education came in much lower than the governor’s original proposal. We understand how vital community colleges and state universities are, not only to the students, but also to the surrounding economies and overall workforce in our state.
In addition to holding K-12 harmless and minimizing the impact to higher education, House Republicans also worked hard to soften cuts on other key priorities such as public safety.
With the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget resolved, we are able to turn our attention to policy discussions and the FY 2018 budget. The most pressing item on the agenda is setting Supplemental School Aid which we plan to get done quickly. House Republicans want to broaden the school funding conversation beyond simply how much more money we can commit to schools each year. We should focus on policies targeted at improving the educational environment for Iowa’s students and providing schools with more flexibility and more local control.
I appreciate all of the feedback I have been getting from constituents on the deappropriation process and pending legislation this session. I read all of my emails and do my best to respond to each one. Please continue to send your questions and concerns to Chris.Hagenow@legis.iowa.gov.