Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa

Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

January 25, 2018 On the Hill
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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Last Monday, we started another legislative session in Des Moines. I’m excited to continue to work to represent House District 78 for another session. Gov. Kim Reynolds laid out her administration’s recommendations for the state budget in fiscal year 2019 on Tuesday, calling for increased funding for education and Medicaid in the new year. This is just the governor’s budget plan and is absolutely not the final budget. There will likely be changes, but everyone was talking about it this week. This newsletter will give some insight into the intricate details of the proposed budget.

The governor is proposing a general fund budget of $7.4415 billion in the year starting on July 1, which would amount to a 2.71 percent increase over the revised spending level in fiscal year 2018. This would also mean the state would be spending 97.48 percent of resources available in fiscal year 2019.

As part of the budget, the governor has incorporated the projected revenue increases the state is expected to get with the passage of the federal tax reform bill late in December. Gov. Reynolds’ budget projects that state revenue will increase $110.8 million during fiscal year 2019. The governor’s budget proposal does not commit these new funds to any spending. With these funds not spent, the proposal anticipates the state having an ending balance of $192.4 million at the end of fiscal year 2019.

Supplemental state aid for schools – Gov. Reynolds is proposing that Iowa’s education system receive $62 million in money during fiscal year 2019. The vast majority of this amount -- $54 million – is provided to school districts through an increase in supplemental state aid for schools. The state would also provide districts with $5 million in new funds for the implementation of the statewide assessments which have been discussed for several years.

Higher education – State funding for state universities under the Board of Regents, Community Colleges, and the Iowa Tuition Grant program for students attending the state’s private colleges also receive an increase in fiscal year 2019. The $13 million in new funds committed to higher education is a similar percentage growth to what is being provided to K-12 education.

Medicaid – Gov. Reynolds’ budget proposal includes additional resources for the program that impacts the most Iowans – Medicaid. In fiscal year 2019, the state will spend an additional $55 million for the regular Medicaid program and the Health and Wellness program. This amount would have been significantly higher, if not for an increase in Iowa’s federal Medicaid match rate. The trend in increasing federal share of Medicaid is also expected to continue into fiscal year 2020.

One significant change is for the first time in recent memory, the proposed Medicaid budget does not include a series of cost containment measures to attempt to limit the growth in health care expenditures. The federal Department of Health & Human Services may make the lack of these proposals available to the states due to the fact that Iowa has implemented just about every cost-control option.

Child care assistance – The strong employment figures experienced in Iowa over the past year creates a different dilemma in the state’s child care assistance program. As the state is one of the national leaders in households with both parents working, the high employment levels lead to increased demand for childcare. Gov. Reynolds’ budget includes a $13.4 million for the childcare assistance program. Beyond the growth in demand for the program, the state is also still adjusting its budget to meet the new federal child care requirements implemented by the Obama administration and Congress in early 2016.

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