Government

Iowa House Oks budget that defunds Planned Parenthood

Nearly $1.7 billion health and human services budget awaits Senate vote

The dome of the Iowa State Capitol building from the rotunda in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Suspended across t
The dome of the Iowa State Capitol building from the rotunda in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Suspended across the dome is the emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The emblem, painted on canvas and suspended on wire, was placed there as areminder of IowaÕs efforts to preserve the Union during the Civil War. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — A $1.766 billion health and human services budget adopted Wednesday by the House is less than this year and drops funding for health clinics that also offer abortions — like Planned Parenthood.

The fiscal 2018 health and human services budget, which covers a vast array of health-related services from help with long-term care to dentistry for kids, still must be passed by the Senate.

It passed in the House on a party-line vote of 55 Republicans and 42 Democrats.

Rep. Dave Heaton seemed to express the frustration of every appropriations subcommittee chair while presenting the budget.

“This has not been easy, but we have to budget within the funds provided to us by Iowa taxpayers,” the Mount Pleasant Republican said before the House approved House File 653.

He said the smaller budget, brought on by slower revenue growth than expected, “will have serious ramifications.”

Although the budget called for lower spending than the current one — $28 million after this year’s midyear de-appropriations are taken into account — the deletion of Planned Parenthood funds were particularly painful for Democrats.

Especially so because the plan calls for turning aside millions in federal funding to to so.

Though the GOP plan allocates $3.3 million in state funds for family planning, Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, said Republicans were leaving $3 million of federal funds on the table by refusing to invest $400,000 over ideological differences.

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“Patients, not politicians, should decide how and where they receive their medical care,” she said. “Stop playing politics with the health of Iowans, stop the ideological train and fund the programs that are important to Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, itemized what she said were the “serious ramifications” Heaton referred to: the need to “protect everyday Iowans” by funding testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, general health care, Pap smears and birth control supplies; as well as address elder abuse, smoking cessation, obesity and hepatitis.

The $3.4 million she talked about needing to do that would be “just a small smidgen to reallocate funds back to them.”

Also Wednesday, the Senate passed three budget bills dealing with infrastructure, economic development, and justice and sent them to Gov. Terry Branstad for his consideration:

HF 643, the infrastructure bill that passed the Senate 42-8, appropriates $98.4 million for fiscal 2018. It includes $73.9 million for Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, $10 million for the Technology Reinvestment Fund, $12 million for the State Bond Repayments Fund and $760,000 for the Revenue Bond Capitals Fund.

The bill also includes $5.2 million for water quality improvements and $3 million for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Grant Program. The bill also directs funds to a long list of agencies and projects.

• Despite misgivings, the Senate accepted House changes before voting 29-21 to send Senate File 509, the justice bill, to the governor.

“I’m amazed. The House took a bad justice systems and made it worse,” said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, “Truly, there is no justice in the justice systems appropriation.”

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• And the House and Senate both approved the economic development budget, SF 513, to appropriate $38.4 million from the general fund and 585 full-time equivalent positions for the Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Finance Authority, Public Employment Relations Board, Iowa Workforce Development and Board of Regents. This is a decrease of $3 million.

A companion bill, HF 654, also appropriates $38.7 million from other funds, an increase of $10.7 million. It passed the House 57-40 and the Senate 31-19.

The House also unanimously approved Senate amendments to a pair of bills — HF 564 and HF 565 — to give schools more flexibility, and a career and technical education bill, HF 648.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Grassley said Wednesday’s work makes him think “things are moving along very well … That’s good for this building so we can get this session wrapped up.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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