Budget negotiations continue for Iowa House and Senate

CAPITOL LETTERS

BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAN A. HUSEMAN

R-District 3, Aurelia

As the session winds down, there are only a few more major policy bills left to debate, and it is questionable whether all of them will make it to the floor.  It is time to start throwing some of this stuff overboard so we can concentrate on the state budget and maybe tax reform. We are scheduled to adjourn on April 17, but it would appear that will be a difficult target to hit.

Budget negotiations continue between the House and Senate. At times, the process seems to grind to a complete halt, only to pick up again a few hours later. The House starts half of the budget bills and the Senate does the other half. It is always nice to have budget targets which are agreed to. That way, both sides know how big the pie is and just need to determine the sizes of the individual pieces. It is a tedious process, but we will make it work. Hopefully sooner than later.

As the Legislature works through the budget process, there are also negotiations relating to tax reform. There are three different versions floating around, and the hope is that some type of compromise can be reached. The Senate has already passed a bill which is very complex and contains a lot of tax cuts. The House bill and the proposal brought forward by the governor take a different approach.

While the Senate plan is heavy on tax cuts, the House is looking at reforming the tax code, and possibly making tax cuts only if the state budget can afford them. In other words, most people enjoy paying less in taxes, but we are being very careful not to go too far and then end up making cuts to the State budget in the middle of the year. Tax reform and the budget are closely intertwined. In the House, we are also very much aware that there could be some serious trade issues with China, which would have an impact on our state budget.  Obviously, none of us wants that to happen, as the farm economy is pretty fragile right now as it is. Revenue estimates for next year are up, but that could all change very quickly if farm commodity prices are put in jeopardy.

Governor Kim Reynolds has been busy signing bills into law. This week was no different. It is not unusual for her to sign 15-20 bills on any given day, most of which are non-controversial. One bill she signed created affordable health plan options for Iowans who can’t afford to buy health insurance. This is proactive legislation designed to provide relief to many Iowans, especially farmers and small businesses. 

The Governor also signed the Future Ready Iowa bill, which is her plan to train Iowans for the jobs of both today and tomorrow. I supported both pieces of legislation.

You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home is 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319. My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, IA 51005. If you have email, please contact me at dan.huseman@legis.iowa.gov.