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Distrcit 72 Update

April 22, 2016
By State Rep. Dean Fisher - R-Garwin , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Newsletter for Thursday, April 14, 2016

I skipped publishing a newsletter last week due to the slow pace. However, we did lay a lot of groundwork for the budget, including setting the targets for the various appropriations bills.

This week, week 14 of the session, the pace picked up considerably. Instead of dealing with dozens of smaller bills, we are dealing with a few large, complex appropriations bills. Each year half of these bills start in the House, and half in the Senate.

April 19th is the 100th day of the session, and per the Iowa Constitution this is the day that our per diem expense allocation runs out and our clerks and many of the pages are dismissed. Those facts, and the spring weather, are giving the legislators ample incentive to complete our work. The next week will be even busier.

Education Budget Subcommittee

This is one of my committee assignments. The budget subcommittees are all joint committees with members of the Senate and the House meeting jointly. This committee deals with funding our Regents schools, tuition grants for students attending private colleges, community colleges, schools for the blind and deaf, and other education related areas. With our tight budget, we only had $4.9 million in new money for this budget, but we were able to make adjustments within this budget to reflect our priorities. We increased funding for our community colleges by roughly $3 million, an important priority because the community colleges are training the workers in the highest demand by our job creators. Workers such as welders, nurses, computer controlled machine operators, and electricians receive valuable training from our local community colleges. Funding for our three Regent schools was also increased slightly with a total of $6.3 million. Most significantly, the distribution of these funds reflected an ongoing effort to correct an inequity in funding for the University of Northern Iowa that has persisted for years. The University of Iowa received $1.3 million, Iowa State University received $2.2 million, and the University of Northern Iowa received $2.8 million.

Water Quality Funding

House File 2451 was passed out of the House this past week with bipartisan support at 65 votes for and 33 against. This bill provides funding for water quality improvements in both agricultural and urban areas. Efforts in urban areas will be funded by a 6% excise tax on water bills which replaces the current 6% sales tax on the same sales. In other words, we are diverting this tax from the general fund to specifically be used for water quality in our towns and cities. Agricultural efforts such as in field (grass water ways, cover crops, etc.) and edge of field (nutrient bio-reactors, retention ponds, etc.) will be funded by a combination of general fund money and money generated from casinos through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. This plan replaces the governor's proposal of using a portion of the SAVE fund to fund these efforts. The bill has gone to the Senate.

In closing

This time of year we begin to see a lot of school groups visit the capitol. It's always fun to greet the kids, answer their questions, and get a picture in the well of the House with them. This Thursday I was able to greet three classes of third graders from East Marshall.

I would love to have you come down to the Capitol any Monday through Thursday to visit, discuss your concerns with me, and take a tour of this beautiful building. It is one of Iowa's treasures. But come soon, we are nearly done for the year.

As always, please feel free to contact me at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov or 641-750-3594.

 
 
 

 

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