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ITR: Session remains stalled but House takes action

Iowa Capitol 1By Iowans for Tax Relief

 

While many Iowans viewed this past weekend as a kickoff to summer, Legislators will not be getting a break anytime soon.  The Legislative session remained stalled last week with not even the slightest hint that adjournment could be close.  So while students across the state may be beginning summer break, Legislators will remain tied to their unfinished work at the Capitol.

The main hang-up is still K-12 education funding for the next fiscal year beginning July 1 and coming to agreement on an overall state budget.  However, the two-year education funding plan we mentioned last week has made the differences between Senate, House, and the Governor’s budget plans more complicated and pronounced.

A bill was introduced in the House last week that would increase education funding by 2% for the school year beginning in 2016 while continuing to insist on a 1.25% increase for the 2015-2016 school year.  Senate Democrats have said a 2% increase in 2016 is far lower than they are willing to approve.  While a two-year budget for education makes sense for planning, it has certainly complicated the debate and will likely prolong the session by a few more weeks.

The House took another big step last week by passing the Standings Appropriations bill.  The standings bill is often one of the last bills approved by the Legislature and can become a catchall for any work that needs to be completed before the session adjourns.  This bill is especially dangerous for taxpayers because pet projects and extra spending can be tossed in and approved by Legislators at the last minute.  Fortunately, the House amended the Senate version and decreased the total amount of spending in the bill.  The House version would spend around $3.4 billion while the Senate version calls for $3.5 billion in spending.

The House version of the standings bill will likely be rejected by the Senate and sent to a Conference Committee where Legislators will attempt to compromise.  However, the real compromise will be determined by leadership of each chamber who continue meeting to work out their differences with the state budget.

Iowans for Tax Relief hopes each of you had a wonderful and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!  We thank all who have served in our armed forces and remember those who made the greatest sacrifice to protect our nation and state.  May God continue to bless America!