Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill last Thursday authorizing $21 million for ongoing flood relief in western Iowa. The Senate bill, SF 2144 initially called for $20 million in spending. But the House amended the measure, adding another $1 million. Both chambers unanimously passed the increased funding.
Rep. David Sieck (R-Glenwood) said the additional $1 million reflected the Flood Mitigation Board’s recommended funding to address immediate needs. He also said that by amending the bill to add reporting requirements, lawmakers can more quickly respond if additional funds are needed. Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) said that the legislature needs to take a more proactive approach to planning for future flooding. The measure also included a $330,000 appropriation for the Glenwood Resource Center, a facility for people with severe intellectual disabilities. SF 2144 is the first bill Reynolds has signed this session.
The House and Senate are also continuing the discussion on state school aid appropriations. The Senate bill, SF 2142, initially called for a 2.1% increase in K-12 spending. It passed last Monday on a party-line vote, 31-17. Both House Republicans and the governor, however, support a 2.5% increase. On Tuesday, the House amended the bill to reflect the higher figure, a roughly $20 million funding increase. House Education Chair Cecil Dolecheck (R-Mount Ayr) said the state could afford up to 2.5%–but no more. Democrats in both chambers have pushed for a 3% hike in school spending. The House passed the amended Senate bill Tuesday on a party-line vote, 52-48.
Meanwhile, Governor Reynolds announced plans to hold town hall meetings across the state to get feedback on her “Invest in Iowa Act”. Her proposal calls for a one-cent sales tax increase, with three-eighths of those funds going into a voter-approved Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation trust to help address water quality issues. It would also cut individual income taxes; double Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility from $45,000 for a family to $90,000; shift mental health funding away from counties and to the state; and exempt feminine hygiene products and diapers from sales tax, among other things. The House and Senate are considering two identical bills from the governor, HSB 657 and SSB 3116.