DES MOINES — House Republicans want to split the difference between midyear deappropriation plans proposed by Gov. Kim Reynolds and Senate Republicans.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, unveiled a bill Wednesday afternoon making $42.8 million in adjustments to the budget for the fiscal year ending June 30.
The House plan lands somewhere between the $38.4 million in adjustments Reynolds proposed and the $68.2 million Senate Republicans would cut from the $7 billion-plus general fund budget.
House Republicans took a “methodical approach,” Grassley said. They landed on $42.8 million because they believed it was necessary to cut $37 million, “and we wanted to be a little above that in case we needed to have a little bit of a cushion,” Grassley said.
“We wanted to make sure the changes we were going to make were responsible and something that could be absorbed” and protect GOP priorities, he added.
One of those was community colleges where House Study Bill 648 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=87&ba=hsb648 cut $500,000 — less than a tenth of the $5.5 million cut in the Senate plan. The governor proposed an $825,645 reduction.
“I would say that whenever we had a conversation about the FY18 adjustments, that was the No. 1 issue that came up,” Grassley said.
That doesn’t help Iowans who will be on the receiving end of cuts, said Rep. Chris Hall of Sioux City, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
“Anytime the state has to enact budget cuts midyear at a point in time when the economy is growing, there seems to be some mismanagement,” he said. “I think the types of cuts you’re seeing will continue to fall on Iowa’s most vulnerable. (Republicans) are going to continue to balance the budget on the backs of children, seniors and some of our Medicaid population at a point of time when most of these services have been cut to their core.”
Republicans, he said, “continue to look the other way and hope it gets better.”
House Republicans cut $8.1 million from the regents, which is more than the $5.1 million cut Reynolds proposed, but less than the $19 million the Senate GOP has in its deappropriation plan. Like the Senate, the House plan doesn’t include the $10 million cut Reynolds would make to Medicaid.
“That’s something Iowans feel pretty strongly about right now,” Grassley said.
However, the House GOP cuts $10 million from the economic development High Quality Jobs Program — $3 million more than the Senate. Reynolds recommended no cut.
If Republicans were serious about moving Iowa’s economy forward, “they would not be raiding $10 million from the Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund or raising tuition on Iowa students,” Hall said.
Like the governor and Senate Republicans, Grassley’s bill holds harmless K-12 schools.
All three proposals include $11.2 million the state stands to realize as a result of federal income tax changes.
And like the Senate plan, the House plan includes language clarifying the governor’s authority to transfer money at the end of the fiscal year. Currently, the law allows her to shift up to $50 million without legislative approval.
That language “is the latest admission from Republican lawmakers that Gov. Reynolds broke the law with an illegal transfer of funds,” said Hall, who has sued the governor over her transfer in the fall when the books were closed on fiscal 2017.