A bill to cut tens of millions of dollars in spending to balance this year’s state budget is making its way through the Iowa House and Senate, and a top Democratic budget-writer is criticizing one proposal they say will harm poor families who are already in tough circumstances.
The bill negotiated by majority Republicans in the House, Senate, and governor’s office would cut lodging support for families who have to spend time in Iowa City while getting health care.
“There’s language that says they will reduce by $150,000 support for families living in poverty who are at the University of Iowa Hospitals receiving cancer treatment,” said Rep. Chris Hall (D-Sioux City).
The aid is available to families living at 200% of the federal poverty level.
A spokesman for Governor Branstad says the lodging program did not use its entire appropriation in the past, so cutting it now will not affect families.
“The money is there to provide for the assistance these families need,” said spokesman Ben Hammes.
Hall questions cutting human services, while property tax credits and other tax breaks are being protected in the budget deal.
“One hundred fifty-thousand dollars is being cut in lodging support for poor families who are receiving cancer treatment,” Hall said. “At the same time tax credits and tax cuts that have been brought online the last few years are being held harmless.”
The GOP bill would balance this year’s budget without touching K-12 schools, Medicaid, or property tax credits.
Critics say that leaves a relatively small remainder of the state budget to absorb the cuts.
“These cuts are proposed in what I believe is a poor use of judgment and a manner that is not judicious,” Hall said.