Gov. Kim Reynolds has bill on her desk that approves mid-year cuts of more than $35 million to the state’s $7.2 billion budget. IPR’s Joyce Russell previews the week ahead at the legislature including what to expect from what the legislature has handed the governor.
No word on whether the governor will approve the legislature’s cuts to the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. The legislature sent Gov. Reynolds a bill that would, among other things, cut $11 million from UI and ISU with just a few months left in the fiscal year. ISU’s President Wendy Wintersteen and UI’s President Bruce Harreld say they will be working with their top administrators to carry out the cuts. Gov. Reynolds could line item veto the cuts.
Other state agencies are bracing for big cuts. The department of human services, courts and corrections are all going to take big cuts. It will be up to the departments to make the cuts and that news will be coming out in the weeks ahead. “Last year these midyear cuts affected a number of human services programs,” Russell says.
Sweeping bipartisan mental health legislation is on the governor’s desk. The bill would mandate a number of intermediate services for the mentally ill to take pressure off emergency rooms and jails. It essentially fills in some of the gaps in Iowa’s regional-based mental health care system, Russell says. The state’s mental health regions would be required to offer crisis intervention in most appropriate settings. The recommendations come from a task force last summer.
A decision to give public money to private schools is still alive. This has been on the agenda as long as Republicans have controlled one chamber or the other, Russell says. The state dollars would go directly to families to pay for private education. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, says the Senate will seriously consider the bill. It comes down to a question of whether the state can afford it this year. A similar bill drew a big crowd of mostly opponents for a hearing in the House this year but then didn’t have enough support in the full House Education Committee to advance.