DES MOINES — Senate Republicans approved a measure Thursday cutting $34 million — not the $52 million earlier proposed — to erase a projected shortfall and leave an estimated $18.4 million cushion when the fiscal year ends June 1.
Under Senate File 2117 — which now goes to the Iowa House for consideration after a 29-21 vote — higher education, human services, corrections and the courts take the biggest of the hits. But the revised de-appropriations bill comes closer to what Gov. Kim Reynolds recommended last month.
Midyear spending reductions included $14.56 million for Board of Regents institutions; $1.8 million for community colleges; $6.24 million for the Department of Human Services; $3.4 million for corrections and prisons; $1.6 million for Iowa’s court system and $1.7 million for the Department of Education.
No changes were made to funding levels for K-12 schools, Medicaid, the Iowa State Patrol and the property tax “backfill” the state provides to local governments.
The new net fiscal 2018 appropriation level would be $7.24 billion, down from $7.27 billion.
Minority Democrats decried the cuts as “deep and very reckless,” but Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who was the bill’s floor manager, said the adjustments were caused by lower-than-expected revenue growth and past spending practices that erased a hefty surplus.
“We’re fulfilling our duty to Iowa taxpayers and we’re being responsible in how we go about it,” said Schneider.
Last month, Senate Republicans proposed $52 million in cuts, which was deeper than Reynolds and majority House Republicans sought — leading Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, to complain that Iowans were experiencing “GOP whiplash” from the bouncing numbers.