The 2018 budget took priority this week at the State House. The governor’s proposed budget certainly has some misplaced priorities. One example is the Administration and Regulations budget, one of the appropriations budget subcommittees.
Among the 13 general funds that make up the budget, a couple of “zeros” and negative numbers show up: The Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board and the Public Information Board saw no increase in funding. But that’s better than 10 other State offices, which would see a proposed decrease of $750,000 in funding.
The one office to get a sizable increase? That is the Secretary of State’s office, which would see $646,000 in additional funding to pay for a new Voter ID bill that makes it more difficult for Iowans to vote and has been deemed completely unnecessary by many voting experts, including some on Secretary of State Pate’s own staff. Iowa is currently ranked second in the nation for voting integrity. Iowa does not need its voting system overhauled and it doesn’t need to spend this money.
Time and time again this year, the GOP has said one thing while doing another. They said they support education and a skilled workforce, but raise tuition at our Regents institutions. They claim they support cleaning up Iowa’s waterways, but close an ag center dedicated to conserving our natural resources.
The Republican proposed plan makes cuts in almost every area of the state budget. The budget proposal for education makes $20 million in spending cuts for the upcoming year. That includes the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State, which is dedicated to improving farming practices while conserving natural resources. The Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa had also been on the chopping block, but funding was restored. I’ve received many emails and phone calls from Iowans distressed about the defunding of those two centers. The budget talks are ongoing, and I will continue to fight for funding that helps House District 29 and all Iowans.
In other news, I learned this week that I have been appointed to the Center for Rural Health and Primary Care Advisory Committee. The committee is charged with providing technical planning assistance to rural communities and counties looking for ways to deliver health services to rural areas. The center looks for creative and innovative ways to use available resources to deliver a full range of services to persons in rural communities. This could include hospital conversions, cooperative agreements among health providers, provider recruitment and retention efforts, and other initiatives. I’m honored to serve and look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee to come up with better ways to provide critical health services to rural Iowans across the state