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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - House and Senate leaders Wednesday announced they had reached agreements on joint spending targets in a roughly $7.35 billion budget for fiscal 2017, removing a major stumbling block that was holding up adjournment for the split-control Legislature's 2016 session.
Lawmakers agreed to dedicate $3.617 billion to standing appropriations that include a 2.25 percent increase in state aid to public schools. The other big piece is $1.837 billion for health and human services, which will include slightly more than $40 million more going into a state Medicaid program that is expected to experience $110 million in savings due to this month's switch to privately managed care.
'The subcommittee budget chairs have their work cut out for them,” said Senate President Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque. 'We tried our very best in order to meet the needs of Iowans that all of those various departments serve.
'It's not an easy year. Certainly we wish we could do better. But we're also obligated to make sure the budget is balanced, and that's what we did,” she added.
Two more major funding areas are $1.009 billion to support regent universities, community colleges and other education programs, and $748.2 million to fund the state's court system, prisons and justice system programs. Also $50.8 million was allotted to administration and regulation budgets, and $43.1 million each to agriculture and natural resources and economic development efforts.
'For six years in a row, House Republicans have followed through on our promises to spend less than the state collects and avoid spending one-time money on ongoing needs,” House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said in a statement.
Under the joint spending targets, the state will spend less than it collects in taxes, avoid using one-time money to pay for ongoing needs, keep from intentionally underfunding state programs to balance the budget and, where possible, return unused tax dollars to Iowans, she said.
Democrats who control the Iowa Senate said the joint spending targets balance the state budget responsibly while continuing their efforts to boost the middle class.
'For now, Iowans have chosen divided government - with a Republican governor, Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate,” said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 'Once again, we have attempted to find common ground rather than send state government into gridlock.”
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