Dear Senate District 48,
It is hard to believe we have now completed four weeks of legislative work for the state of Iowa. Next Friday, February 10th, will be the last day for senators and representatives to request drafting of bills and joint resolutions. This means that the following week we will begin to narrow our work to what is already on the table before us.
Way to Go, Winfield!
Congratulations to the City of Winfield for their award of a $500,000 grant for a wastewater treatment project. The Wastewater and Drinking Water Financial Assistance Program applications were awarded based on the program’s priorities and were judged by representatives from the Iowa Finance Authority, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Follow the link below to learn more about this grant program and the recipients of this year’s funding.
Governor Releases Funds to Assist the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund
This week Governor Reynolds announced additional funding for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. This fund was created to assist Iowa veterans and their families with certain costs related to education, emergency assistance, medical care, and unemployment services. However, due to record inflation caused by the reckless spending policies in Washington, DC, and an increase in applications, the fund’s set threshold for spending was surpassed causing a budget deficit.
Every year, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund receives an appropriation from the Iowa legislature, as well as funding from the Iowa Lottery Authority. However, the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs approved more grants early in the year and as more requests continued to be submitted, the fund had been overspent, creating a backlog and resulting in the program being temporarily suspended. This week, Governor Reynolds announced $440,000 to cover the backlog and assist the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs in resuming the program to meet the needs of any outstanding grants that were previously approved. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the legislature will continue this program, while looking for ways to ensure the application and approval process for these grants is financially sustainable and the criteria used to determine grant eligibility do not exceed the funds available.
Some Facts About K-12 Education Funding in Iowa
Funding for K-12 students is one of the first things we address each year during the legislative session. Education makes up the largest part of our state budget, and our commitment to setting it early helps guide the rest of our budget process, but also assists schools in setting their budgets for the upcoming year. When we determine the amount of additional funds K-12 schools will be given, we are committed to providing an amount to not only meet their needs but an amount that is a sustainable part of the entire state budget.
Each year, Iowa spends billions of dollars on K-12 education. State funding alone amounts to $3.8 billion for K-12 education. Combined with local taxes, SAVE funds, federal funds, and other miscellaneous sources, Iowa taxpayers will spend $8.4 billion on K-12 education for Iowa students next year. The money approved in Senate File 192 this week will dedicate an additional $107 million. Iowa taxpayers spend on average $17,068 per student in our state. $7,635 of that amount comes from the state general fund in SF 192.
Protecting Iowa Taxpayers
An error at the Department of Revenue could have led to a property tax increase of as much as $120 million for Iowa homeowners. However, Senate File 181, passed by the Senate on Wednesday, fixes this error, protects the property taxpayer, and provides clarity for local governments in future years. It now advances to the Iowa House for their consideration. Later this session Senate Republicans will be sharing a plan to simplify the number of levies, improve the transparency of how homeowners are taxed on their property, and limit the cost and growth of local government.
FFA Day at the Capitol
Tuesday brought a plethora of navy blue corduroy jackets to the Capitol. FFA students from across the state came to meet with legislators, tour our beautiful building and learn a little about the legislative process. It was an honor to visit with groups from Wapello and Wilton and to learn a little about some of the work they’ve been doing to promote agriculture in our state.
George Washington Carver Day and Other State Historical Society of Iowa Resources
On June 16, 2022, Governor Reynolds signed SF 2380 that designates February 1 of each year as George Washington Carver Day. The State Historical Society of Iowa offers great resources for learning more about this famous scientist with Iowa ties, as well as others who were connected to him during his time in Iowa. Follow this link to these resources as well as other great tools for learning with primary sources, for learning about the history of Iowa and cultural events around the state.
Visitors to the Capitol This WeekAlong with FFA students and their teacher sponsors, the Capitol was busy as always! The list of visitors this week included the Fraternal Order of the Police, the Iowa Firefighters Association, the Iowa Chiropractic Society, the Iowa Occupational Therapy Association, Iowa Public School Superintendents, M Power U Student Presentations, the Iowa Association of Realtors and Habitat for Humanity.
The Life of a Legislator
An Iowa Legislator’s schedule doesn’t just include subcommittee and committee meetings, floor debate, events at the Capitol during session and evening legislative receptions in Des Moines. I am often invited to attend and speak at public forums, round table discussions, community events and civic and county planning sessions. This past week I attended the Burlington Police Department’s Law Enforcement Round Table Discussion with Attorney General Brenna Bird. Sometimes I am fortunate to bring along my granddaughter, Gracie and we are able to make a day of it with a road trip out of town and a Grandpa and Gracie Lunch Date!