As the session winds down, the legislature continues to pass the budget bills. Of the eleven budget bills, two have passed both chambers, several have gone to conference committee and two are still awaiting floor action.
The House Republicans remain committed to these budgeting principles: We will spend less than the state collects; we will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs; we will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and we will return unused tax dollars to Iowa's taxpayers. The final principle of returning unused dollars to Iowa's taxpayers was implemented last year, when you do your taxes this year you will be receiving an income tax credit of $54 for a single person, $108 for couples.
State Rep. Dean Fisher
Bills of Note
House File 2468 Adoption Tax Credit - This bill creates a $2,500 tax credit for families that adopt a child to help offset the expense of adoption. This bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate for their consideration.
Iowa Juvenile Home
On Monday morning I visited Orchard Place in Des Moines, Iowa's largest in-patient Psychiatric Medical Institute for Children (PMIC) with 103 beds for children ages 10-18. I am interested in Orchard Place because it has a similar mission as the IJH had and because of my position on the Health and Human Services budget subcommittee. This facility makes up a quarter of Iowa's PMIC beds. Orchard Place covers 6 acres in southern Des Moines, has an onsite school operated by the local school district, and recreational facilities along with the cottages. One of the interesting things about this facility is that 90% of the children are placed by parents, not adjudicated to be there. The other 10% are adjudicated Juvenile Delinquent or Child In Need of Assistance. Orchard Place deals with a slightly lower level of need child than IJH had but is adapting their program so that they can deal with the higher need level that IJH had been tasked with.
By studying these other facilities I gain a better understanding of Iowa's child care and mental health system, and I develop ideas for the future of the Toledo facility.
On Friday, April 18, I visited the Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, Iowa. This is an enormous facility covering over 200 acres and consisting of nearly a dozen buildings built in 1902. The main set of buildings, all connected contain a 150 bed secure Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders (CCUSO), a 24 bed adult mental health unit, a 12 bed children's mental health unit, and administrative offices.
An out building will soon contain the Plains Area Integrated Health Home offices along with the Northwest Iowa Youth Emergency Services juvenile detention center and a Juvenile Court service.
Another building provides space for Jackson Recovery, an adult 24 bed inpatient and outpatient treatment center. The CCUSO is currently occupied by 105 inmates, all ex-prisoners that have been civilly committed even though they have discharged their court sentence. An extensive treatment program including vocational training is utilized to rehabilitate these persons. The adult and children's mental health units serve the northwest portion of the state, the CCUSO is statewide. I can envision the Toledo facility being utilized much like the Cherokee facility minus the CCUSO.
As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns. My contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org 641-750-3594