by CBI Lobbyist Jeff Boeyink - Partner, LS2 Group
Overview / Major Events
As expected, House leaders, Senate leaders, and the Governor’s office came to an agreement earlier this week on a bill to reduce state spending in the current FY17 budget.
The spending reductions became necessary to satisfy the state’s spending limitation law that limits general fund spending to no more than 99% of estimated revenue (based on the December revenue estimate).
When the December 2016 revenue estimate came in lower than the estimate that was used to craft the FY17 budget, it became clear that spending reductions would be required to ensure spending would not exceed the legal limit once the books close on the 2017 budget year (which ends on June 30, 2017).
The resolution was reached by first reducing some of the most politically difficult budget cuts and second by transferring balances from a number of existing funds to support agency spending.
That said, the fund transfers will trigger FY18 reductions in the base budgets of those agencies to ensure the budget principle of not “using one-time money to pay for on-going expenses” is upheld. Using this mechanism will allow those impacted agencies some additional time to prepare for the ultimate reductions in their budgets and will also allow them to spread the impact over an entire fiscal year, rather than in the last 5+ months of the current budget year.
Here are some of the differences from the Governor’s original recommendations and the agreed-to package.
Budget Item Governor’s Recommendation Final
Natural Resources -$1.3 million -$650,000
Regents (Iowa, ISU, UNI) -$25.5 million -$18.0 million
Community Colleges -$8.7 million -$3.0 million
Corrections -$15.0 million -$5.5 million
Judicial Branch -7.7 million -3.0 million
Representative Todd Prichard Likely Democrat Candidate for Governor
With the buzz surrounding the upcoming resignation of Governor Branstad (to assume the Ambassadorship to China) and swearing in of Kim Reynolds as Iowa’s first female governor, Democrats are also making news on this front.
It is becoming more likely that State Representative Todd Prichard will likely be making an announcement soon regarding his intention to seek his party’s nomination for Governor. The Charles City Democrat is a lawyer and Iraq War veteran and has developed a reputation as a pragmatic lawmaker since joining the General Assembly.
Prichard’s background and profile make him an attractive option for establishment Democrats. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Sanders’ wing of the Iowa Democratic Party will be open to his candidacy or seek other options that better represent the party’s ascending left wing.
Week 3 Marks Flurry of Legislative Activity
After a couple of weeks of relatively light activity (not surprising given the budget negotiations and normal start-up work), Week 3 saw a flurry of subcommittee work as Legislators ramped up the lawmaking progress. Higher profile measures that cleared subcommittee or full committee this week include: defunding Planned Parenthood, allowing hair to be used for employee drug testing purposes, texting while driving as a primary offense, and allowing for the substitution of biosimilars for biologic drugs.
Efforts on Behalf of Community Bankers of Iowa