This week the House began debate for the first time this year. We passed several bills, all of them in a bipartisan manner. A few highlights include House File 2108, which changes how notice must be given when a property tax equalization order is issued. If assessments are revalued and reassessed the board must now mail and place a notice in the newspaper. This will bring more openness to the process and ensure property tax owners are constantly kept in the loop. We addressed utility mortgage filings, youth turkey hunting licenses, and a bill to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of children. To read more about these bills and others we considered this week, please visit www.iowahouserepublicans.com
One bill that got a lot of attention was House File 2194, which changes the date in which the state sets supplemental state aid (school funding). Since 1993, the state is required by law to set this funding two years in advance and within 30 days of the governor presenting his budget to the legislature. This practice has often not lent itself to stable budgets, which have hurt our local school districts a great deal. For example:
- FY02 – Across the Board Cut ($74.1 million)
- FY03 – School Aid appropriation was underfunded by the state ($13.5 million)
- FY04 – Across the Board Cut ($39.3 million)
- FY09 – Across the Board Cut ($31.9 million)
- FY10 – Across the Board Cut ($227.2 million)
- FY10 – School Aid appropriation was underfunded by the state ($156.1 million)
- FY11 – Legislature delayed setting Allowable Growth (SF 2045) to the next year
In Fiscal Year 2012, the legislature began setting two-year budgets, which included setting this school funding for those two years as well. House File 2194 simply codifies this practice for all legislatures going forward. In each odd-numbered year, the first year of a General Assembly and the first year of a biennial budget, the legislature would set the funding for schools.
For Fiscal Year 2015, Iowa spends about $10,000 per K-12 student every year and already the Fiscal Year 2015 revenue forecast, which would affect the 2016 school year, remains blurry. If we were to commit the state to funding two years out without knowing how much is available to be spent, we may have to back up on our promises to Iowa’s schools. Making education a priority means honoring the commitments we’ve made. It is irresponsible to promise a funding level without any assurances that it could even be reached. When families make financial commitments several years out into the future, they only do so when they have a good idea of what their resources will be. Making a funding promise to school districts without knowing other budget factors, including the amount of revenue, is poor budgeting and will only hurt our schools.
Next week is the first funnel – this is the self-imposed deadline related to legislative action. For a policy bill to remain eligible for debate by the full House at some point later during the session, it must be approved by a House Committee before the end of the week or “First Funnel.” If a bill doesn’t survive the “First Funnel”, it is likely the issue is dead for the remainder of the year. This rule does not apply to budget bills or tax bills. The capitol will be a buzz with subcommittee and committee meetings. I will update you next week with bills that survived the funnel.
This week the House had a visitor from a former state representative. It was great to visit with Sen. Chuck Grassley while he was with us Thursday morning. I encouraged him to keep up his work protecting Iowa taxpayers.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please contact my office at (515) 281-3521 or at firstname.lastname@example.org