The State Capitol in Des Moines. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)
Senate Republicans are planning for tax cuts and increased spending for education, health care and public safety in fiscal year 2022.
Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, released the GOP’s budget targets on Wednesday afternoon. The majority party proposes spending nearly $8 billion in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ budget proposal, announced in January, would increase general fund spending from the current year’s $7.7 billion to about $8.1 billion for the 2022 fiscal year, a 3.7% increase.
“Right now is really just the beginning of the budget process here in the Senate and in the Capitol,” Whitver said in a call with reporters. “The sprint to the finish will start today with these budget targets coming out.”
There would be funding increases for several sectors under the budget targets. That includes:
- An additional $80 million for education. Over $55 million would go to K-12 schools, while the rest would go toward higher education.
- A $98.1 million increase for health care. Whitver said $60 million would go toward mental health services.
- Public Safety would see a $13 million increase. An extra $4 million would go to the Department of Corrections. Whitver said this was not in response to Tuesday’s attack at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
Overall, there would be a $195 million increase in spending from fiscal year 2021.
The budget targets also account for changes to Iowa’s tax law, including a proposal moving quickly through the Senate to pay for mental health services through state appropriations, rather than property taxes. In addition, Republicans propose to fully implement the 2018 tax cut plan, even through the state has not met the 4% revenue growth target that would have triggered the move, and to eliminate the inheritance tax.
Whitver noted that some budget items, including funding for broadband expansion in Iowa, were not included in the budget targets because they would not be ongoing expenditures. Reynolds in January proposed spending $150 million a year over three years to expand broadband access in rural Iowa.
Democrats criticized the proposal for not including assistance to Iowans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A Senate Republican budget plan announced today ignores the fact that thousands and thousands of working Iowans have been hit hard in the pocketbook in the past year,” Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said in a Wednesday press release. “There’s no excuse for Statehouse Republicans who are ignoring the economic and health care crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Republican legislative leaders have said their budget would not include the latest allocation of federal COVID-19 dollars for state government, citing the need to wait for guidelines on spending the money.
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