DES MOINES | Two Democratic legislative leaders told members of liberal groups that Iowa faces a Republican-made budget crisis because of mismanagement and “record giveaways” for tax credits and exemptions.

“What we have is a really a disorganized group of Republicans trying to figure out this mess,” Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said at a Moral Monday forum that brings together members of 25 progressive groups at the Capitol each Monday during the legislative session.

“When you have people running government who don’t like government, this is what you get,” he said, referring to the GOP as “the wrecking crew.”

“You have to wonder what their motivation is,” Bolkcom added.

Even though the state is expected to see an increase in revenue, majority Republicans are discussing cuts to the current year budget.

“At a point that the state has more revenue available than the year before, we should be able to maintain and be discussing where the new revenue can be allocated,” Hall said.

Senate Republicans initially proposed $52 million in cuts, but last week lowered that to $34 million. House Republicans proposed a $42.8 million cut and the governor’s office called for $38.4 million in adjustments.

School aid

A House Appropriations subcommittee approved an amendment to Senate File 455, which will make $11.2 million available to school districts for transportation costs and $2.8 million to lessen the inequity in per pupil funding.

Rep. Walt Roger, R-Cedar Falls, said the $11.2 million will buy down transportation costs, which run as high as $970 per pupil per year at North Winneshiek, to no more than $432 per student in all districts. Districts that spend less than $432 per student will get no transportation funding relief from the bill.

The $2.8 million will buy down the inequity in per pupil funding from $175 to $170 per pupil.

The Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the bill Wednesday.

Save extension

A House Education subcommittee unanimously approved HSB 647 to extend the 1-cent sales tax for school infrastructure until 2049.

The bill removes the 2029 sunset for the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education, or SAVE, to provide schools with funds for safe, modern schools and technology.

The funds will be distributed on a per pupil basis except for increasing the allocation for property tax equity relief from $984 per pupil in fiscal 2019 to $1,087 in 2029 and $1,521 in 2050.

The bill also would require schools boards planning to issue bonds against the SAVE revenue to have a public hearing and allow 14 days for residents to call for a referendum. It also place limits on the use of SAVE funds for athletic facilities.

Fetal heartbeat

Legislation that would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion in Iowa once a fetal heartbeat is detected was approved Monday on an 8-5 party-line vote by the Senate Judicial Committee.

An overflow crowd of supporters and opponents broke into extended applause after the committee acted. Supporters say Senate Study Bill 3143 said the measure is designed to protect the unborn by barring a physician from performing an abortion when tests determine a heartbeat is present unless a medical emergency exists that warrants the procedure. Violation of the bill’s provisions would subject a doctor to a Class D felony charge carrying a five-year prison term but there would be no penalty for the woman.

Opponents called the bill unconstitutional, dangerous and a “direct attack” on women’s health care in Iowa.

Trust fund rally

Hundreds of Iowans flooded the Capitol rotunda to rally and lobby their legislators in support of funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Business leaders, conservationists, public officials, farmers, hunters and cyclists were on hand to voice their backing for establishing a sustainable source of funding for natural resources and outdoor recreation. The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund was created by a statewide vote in 2010, but has yet to be funded by a sales tax increase of three-eighths of 1 percent that won voter approval.


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