Budget Deal Should Be Iowa House Republicans Final Offer



imageIn order to appease Iowa Senate Democrats, the Iowa House leadership roll out a budget deal which more than meets Senate Democrats half way.  KCCI reports:

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen announced at a Thursday news conference that Republicans are willing to go along with a 2 percent increase in basic education funding supported by Democrats, but only in the second year of the spending plan.

Paulsen said they’ve also agreed to continue preschool programs as they currently exist.

Paulsen said the spending plan sticks with a Republican pledge to spend no more than $5.9 billion in the coming fiscal year.

It’s interesting that KCCI omitted the little fact that Iowa House Republicans plan to implement a cut in the amount that the state pays to school districts from $3600 to $1800.  Jason Clayworth of The Des Moines Register reports that State Senator Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville), the Iowa Senate appropriations chair, is underwhelmed with the proposal.

It is unclear how much Democratic support the omnibus bill may gain from Democrats. Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville and Senate Appropriations Chairman, called the proposal for 2 percent allowable growth “a small step.”

“With one billion dollars in the state’s savings accounts, Democrats still believe more must be done to avoid a two-year starvation diet for Iowa schools, health care cutbacks for Iowa families, and deep cuts in job creation efforts,” Dvorsky said in a statement.

The Republicans come up with specific compromises, but Dvorsky still complains.  Regarding health care – heaven forbid that state employees pay $100/month for a family plan! (Many of us would love family medical insurance, let alone only having to pay $100 for it). Republicans wanted to scrap the current preschool model and adopt a need-based model; their scrapping that.  They wanted to 0% allowable growth, but will give the Senate Democrats 2% for one of the two-year spending plan.  They’re even compromising on how the spending plan is implemented by passing most items in the budget at an 85% level allowing the legislature to still have a say in the second year.

Let me be clear.  I’m not happy with the compromise.  I want universal preschool gone, it has been a budget killer, there were other options for low-income families before, it has hurt private preschools, and those who are not lower income – if they want it they can pay for it.  With education consisting of 60% of the state’s general fund budget having 0% allowable growth is not unreasonable.  If we have to cut our budgets when things are tight so should the public schools.

I am happy with the House Republican proposal for state employee medical insurance.  I’d like to know what was done with the school tuition organization tax credit.  I’m especially pleased that they are including a provision to eliminate Medicaid-paid abortions in cases of rape and incest.  This models a South Dakota law which only allows Medicaid to pay for abortions if a mother’s life is endangered.  I feel for victims of rape and incest, but I also empathize for the children they are carrying.  Who will speak for them?  There are options beyond abortion, and Medicaid would pay for OB/GYN care and the delivery.  After that there is adoption if they don’t want to keep the child.

Anyway, this budget deal is a mixed bag for me.  I would rather see them shut the government down than compromise like this.  But I also understand that they only control one of the legislative chambers.  I’d say if Senate Democrats can’t meet them here, then shut the State Government down.  This should be the Iowa House Republicans final offer, but I’m afraid it won’t be.  Anything less than this would leave us at status quo which is what the voters rejected last November.

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