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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
JOHNSTON - Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley on Friday said shifting funding for mental health care services from local property taxes to the state's general fund is more complicated than just the funding mechanism.
Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, said House GOP lawmakers feel the discussion should include not just the funding but also how that money is spent by providers.
'I think that issue is much bigger than just taking over the local (property tax) levy that exists,” Grassley said during the taping of 'Iowa Press” at Iowa PBS studios.
'We want to provide property tax relief any time we can do that, but I always remind everyone that the way the current system is set up, we would be basically writing the check without having any - very little, if any - input on how the money was spent on the back end.”
The Republican-led Iowa Senate this week approved legislation that would, in phases, shift the funding for the state's regional mental health care system to the state. Those services are now funded by local property taxes.
Grassley listed Medicaid and tax increment financing as other state-funded programs where he believes state lawmakers do not have sufficient input in how funding is spent.
'I think it's a much bigger conversation than just the focus on the tax itself,” he said.
Grassley said he has signed off on legislation that would repeal the state requirement that gun owners have a permit, a bill approved by the House and Senate.
That means Gov. Kim Reynolds must decide over the next few days whether she will sign or veto the bill. Reynolds at her weekly news conference Wednesday said she was reviewing the legislation.
When asked if he was concerned by the optics of passing a law that loosens gun regulations in the wake of recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado, Grassley defended the legislation.
'Every bill that we pass, there's probably some level of optics,” he said. 'Our caucus has been very pro-Second Amendment, and we continue to always hear these same pushbacks, and then I think that we've proven we can pass good legislation.”
'Iowa Press” airs on Iowa PBS at 7:30 p.m. Friday and noon on Sunday and at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on Iowa PBS World. It also is available online at iowapbs.org.
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