We are in the homestretch of the 110-day legislative session! This week we debated bills, moved governor appointments to state boards and commissions and advanced budget bills in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Passing sustainable, responsible budgets is a priority in the Senate. It allows departments and schools to plan their budgets based on numbers they can count on and it also has prepared Iowa well to weather difficult times. It is why Iowa in the strong fiscal position we are in today, with full cash reserves and a projection to end another fiscal year with over a significant surplus.
In the Senate, our state budget proposal is $7.99 billion for the next fiscal year that includes increases for education, public safety, mental health and economic development, a $193 million increase from the previous year. This amount puts the projected ending balance over $600 million and over $330 million will be in the Taxpayer Trust Fund. The Senate’s budget proposal includes over $55 million for K-12 education, close to $100 million for health care, and an increase of over $17 million for public safety.
As chair of the Senate Education Budget Subcommittee, I proposed a $1.01 billion budget for education in Iowa that includes funding for the Department of Education, Department for the Blind, Department for the Deaf, the College Student Aid Commission, Early Childhood Iowa, community colleges and the State Board of Regents that oversees our three Regent Universities: the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. This budget is in addition to the $3.5 billion allocated to fund K-12 schools in Iowa, which means well over half of Iowa’s total budget is dedicated to education and workforce development.
Significant increases in the education budget include the following:
- An increase of $371,000 for the Department for the Blind and School for the Blind.
- An increase of $253,000 for the Iowa School for the Deaf.
- An increase of $200,000 for the Rural Care Loan Repayment Program and the Health Care Loan Repayment Program to support recruitment of healthcare professionals into our rural areas
- An increase of $9 million for the Last Dollar Scholarship Program, Skilled Worker Tuition Grant and Student First Scholarships for tuition assistance to those seeking post-secondary training and education
- An increase of $544,000 for Early Childhood Iowa to provide services to Birth to 5 programming to help children and their families with early education and health and human services.
- An increase of $2.0 million for iJAG to bolster the programming for students facing barriers to graduation and to also help with minority teacher recruitment.
- An increase of $250,000 for the Iowa Reading Research Center to provide a dyslexia endorsement.
- An increase of $6.5 million for the Community Colleges.
- An increase of $2.6 million to fund the provisions of the therapeutic classroom legislation we passed in the 2020 session. This includes grants for establishment of therapeutic classrooms, transportation of students to therapeutic classrooms, and training for teachers on how to deal with difficult students.
- An increase of $300,000 for Vocational Rehabilitation for the enhancement of mobile/remote technologies and increased services to juveniles with disabilities within the Iowa Correctional System.
- An increase of $100,000 for Iowa PBS to preserve historic video archives
- An increase of $8.2 million to be distributed to the Regents Institutions
As the Senate moves forward with our budget proposals, I look forward to continuing discussions with the House of Representatives on passing another responsible state budget for next year and ensuring real tax relief for Iowans.