Welcome to the first issue of the 2019 Legislative Session. The session gaveled in on Monday, January 14th, and is scheduled to last 110 days with per diems expiring on Friday, May 3rd. As you recall from previous years, the May 3rd date doesn’t mean they’re done, but it often signals the end is near.
This 2019 session of the 88th General Assembly features 31 new legislators, 22 in the House and 9 in the Senate. In the Senate, Republicans increased their margin to 32-18 (from 29-20), and in the House, Republicans’ margin dropped to 54-46 (from 59-41).
Thirty percent (45 out of 150) of this year’s legislators are women, including over one-third (34) of the House and over one-fifth (11) of the Senate. Additionally, for the first time in history, a majority of one of the caucuses, the House Democrats, are women legislators (24 out of 46).
Governor Kim Reynolds
In addition to the record number of women in the Legislature, Iowa voters elected a woman Governor for the first time in history. Gov. Reynolds was sworn in as Iowa’s 43rd and first elected female governor on Friday, January 18th.
On the second day of the legislative session, Governor Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State address along with her proposed budget for the Legislature to consider. The Governor’s budget always represents the first shot across the bow in assembling the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. As the session wears on, the Legislature will use the Governor’s budget, their own priorities, and a March budget estimate from the Revenue Estimating Conference to piece together their appropriations bills for the upcoming year.
Some highlights of the Governor’s speech and budget proposal include:
The Governor’s budget proposes spending $7.6585 billion from the General Fund in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, an increase of 0.51 percent over her revised FY 2019 budget. This represents 97.36 percent of available revenue, a comfortable margin under the 99% expenditure limitation.
An increase of 2.3% ($93.4 million) to K-12 schools.
The legislature is required to establish school funding increases within 30 days of the delivery of the Governor’s budget.
An increase of $18 million to the Regents universities - $7 million each to the University of Iowa and Iowa State University and $4 million to the University of Northern Iowa. An increase of $4.7 million for community colleges and $1.1 million to the Iowa Tuition Grant program.
Future Ready Iowa – The Governor proposes providing $17.2 million to the College Student Aid Commission to fund the Last Dollar Scholarship program.
Mental Health – The Governor commits $6 million to increase the number of regional access centers and for more mobile treatment teams. The budget also contains $3 million to help train teachers to detect students’ mental health issues, along with resources to expand psychiatric residencies and training for physician assistants and nurse practitioners specializing in mental health care.
Backfill - The Governor’s budget fully funds the property tax backfill that reimburses local governments for losses that occurred due to the property tax reform bill.
Broadband – The Governor’s budget calls for $10 million in FY 2020 and again in FY 2021 to expand broadband access across Iowa.
FY 2019 adjustments – The Governor’s budget increases FY 2019 by about $144.5 million, with the vast majority of that ($141.1 million) being directed toward Medicaid.
Felon Voting Rights – The Governor announced in her speech that she would introduce and support a proposed amendment to Iowa's Constitution that would restore felons’ voting rights upon completion of their sentence, including any probation or parole.
Rural Workforce Housing Tax Credit – The Governor proposed doubling this allocation to $10 million per year.
Below is a chart that breaks down the major budget functions within the Governor’s proposed FY 2020 budget: