Substantial progress has now been made in the Iowa House on pieces of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Four different budget bills have been approved by the full House and are now in the Senate waiting consideration.
These four budget bills all adhere to our agreed upon bicameral budget targets, and will be a part of our overall balanced budget. Our budget subcommittees have done the difficult work of setting priorities within these bills, to ensure that the core services Iowans expect are met.
Our first appropriations bill of the year was funding for the Judicial Branch, supporting the various components of our court system. I was pleased to see that House File 2449 included language in support of family treatment courts on a statewide basis. These specialty courts have been very effective at working with communities and treatment professionals to seek rehabilitation of offenders and restoration of families.
The Justice Systems appropriations bill, House File 2450, provides funding to our correctional system and public safety. One specific priority for the House was increased funding to add 30 new Highway Patrol Officers, after several years of declines.
The Agriculture and Natural Resources budget represents many different priority items. House File 2458 continues our work on water quality initiatives, and also includes language that prohibits taxpayer dollars being used for state employee settlement agreements.
Finally, the Economic Growth and Development budget, House File 2460, funds the Economic Development Authority, Iowa Finance Authority, Workforce Development, and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Included is additional funding for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) internships.
In passing these bills through the House, we resisted numerous budget-busting amendments. These amendments either inflated budget line items or create entire new ongoing state obligations. These amendments would have placed the coming budget out of balance by tens of millions of dollars. We chose to remain steadfast in our commitment to not spending more than the state collects in revenue.
Work continues to build the remaining pieces of the state budget. We will continue our fight to protect core priorities while protecting Iowa taxpayers with a balanced budget.