Throughout the fourteenth week of session the Senate debated bills, moved several appointments to boards and commissions from the governor, and advanced budget bills out of the Appropriations Committee. The Senate has proposed a budget of $7.99 billion for the next fiscal year. This amount includes increases for education, public safety, and mental health funding.
For years, passing responsible and sustainable budgets has been a focus in the Senate. It is a priority to conservatively allocate the funds the state has available, allow departments to plan their budgets accordingly, and also prepare the state budget to weather difficult times. These principles drive our budget decisions and are the reason it is in such a strong position today.
Under the Senate’s budget proposal, spending increases $193 million above the previous year. This amount puts the projected ending balance over $600 million and over $330 million will be in the Taxpayer Trust Fund. Some of the most important pieces of the Senate’s budget proposal include, close to $100 million for health care, and an increase of over $17 million for public safety.
Another important part of this budget is the tax relief measures included. This year the Senate has passed several tax relief policies to help Iowa families and small businesses. We passed legislation guaranteeing the next round of tax cuts are implemented in the 2018 tax bill, eliminating the mental health property tax levy, and phasing out the inheritance tax in Iowa. The only way these tax reforms are possible is because of the strong financial position of the state budget. Tax relief for hard-working families is a priority for myself, especially after a year when many Iowans could use some extra money in their pockets.
As the Senate moves forward with our budget proposals, I look forward to continuing discussions with the House of Representatives on passing the state budget for next year and ensuring real tax relief for Iowans.