Governor Kim Reynolds laid out her agenda for the 2018 legislative session this week, presenting a set of lofty goals that hit on topics that typically have bipartisan support. But as Joe Biden often said, “show me you budget and I’ll show you your priorities.” So, let’s take a look at the budget for Fiscal Year 2019 that Reynolds released after her speech and see how it lines up with her words.
Overall, Reynolds’ budget is a $196 million increase over the revised 2018 budget, though it doesn’t appear to account for potential tax cuts that Republicans are intent on making. The biggest increase in spending is an additional $65.1 million to the state’s beleaguered Medicaid system.
“We must also continue to provide compassionate mental health care … We’ve invested $2 billion in mental health services. And in 2016 we invested $4 million in a new psychiatric medical residency program to recruit and retain more psychiatrists. But we must do more, and I know we can.”
$1,029,258 cut to the Glenwood Resource Center, which serves individuals with intellectual disabilities.
$690,355 cut to the Woodward Resource Center, which does the same.
Reynolds also touted a new partnering with Des Moines University that will train medical students on treating people with mental health issues. It’s not clear from a read of the budget where that additional money is at, though it may be rolled in with a larger expenditure. The spending for DMU’s health care professional recruitment program is staying at $400,973, the same amount the state spent in FY 2018.
“The foundation for a bright future starts early. So when we talk about unleashing opportunity and prioritizing our budget, nothing is more important to me than investing in our children … Education is a priority, and we will continue to back that up with real money. In my budget I am proposing $54 Million in new money for our schools.”
$54 million increase to school state aid formula.
While that may sound nice at first, it’s actually just a 1.5% increase for schools, the fifth-lowest increase over the past four decades. Legislative Republicans may try to pass an even lower amount. She also takes an ax to a program designed to help new teachers enter the field and teach in a low-income district.
$94,172 cut to the Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness
That cut eliminates nearly half of the program’s funding. Reynolds did, however, find money to significantly boost the National Guard Benefits Program college student aid by $1,779,600.
“In today’s changing economy, whether our kids are bound for a four-year college, a community college, trade school, apprenticeship, military service, or headed into the workforce, we must prepare them for a productive and successful life.”
$2,440,588 cut for the University of Iowa
$1,946,476 cut for the Iowa State University
UNI is spared from more deep cuts for 2019, but yet another year of reductions for Iowa’s three largest universities is not going to help with skyrocketing tuition costs. On this front, at least Reynolds is somewhat consistent with her rhetoric. Republicans in Iowa for years have been souring on 4-year educations, to the point where they seem to be actively dissuading people from taking them.
However, there is also a $7,250,194 increase suggestion to the Board of Regents, but it’s not broken out in any way. It’s unclear where that will go, or if Reynolds is leaving it up to the Legislature to appropriate.
“Addiction can be just as anguishing for Iowa families and many of you know someone who has suffered from the wave of heroin and opioid addiction that is making its way through Iowa. This issue is very personal to me. To the thousands of Iowans impacted by addiction, I’ve been there; I understand your struggles. My family understands your struggles. I know that life can be so much better … My plan to address this epidemic includes, increase use of the Prescription Monitoring Program, supporting enhanced intervention for Iowans addicted to opioids, and expanding medicated assisted treatment, the very program that helped Caleb.”
$181,487 cut to the Department of Public Health’s addictive disorders budget.
A big part of Reynolds’ goal, however, is having the Legislature pass a law that cracks down on doctors prescribing unnecessary drugs in the first place.
“When talking about your school [Central Campus], Mike [Rowe] said that you have a pre-apprenticeship program that rivals the best he’s ever seen; that you, the kids in this program, are given real-world experience. So real, that your high-school classes are translating into college credits. We can and should emulate your program around our state. And the initiative to help us do that is Future Ready Iowa. Future Ready Iowa will create an environment where opportunity is unleashed. A place where high-paying new jobs are seamlessly linked with a motivated and highly-skilled workforce.
In Iowa, the careers of tomorrow are being created today, with starting salaries of $40,000, even $50,000 a year just waiting to be filled. In fact, right now, there are more than 55,000 job openings on the Iowa Workforce Development website, many in high-demand, high-paying fields.”
$250,000 to a new Summer Youth Work Pilot
$150,000 to a new Future Ready Iowa Coordinator
$350,000 to a new Future Ready Iowa Marketing
This is a hallmark of nearly every Condition of the State or presidential State of the Union, from politicians from both parties: highlight a nice-sounding new initiative that is actually a tiny program with very low expenditures. Reynolds notes there’s 55,000 job openings on Iowa’s workforce website, and while this Future Ready Iowa program may be a good idea, one has to wonder how many students you’re going to impact with a budget that small. How many people can a single staffer/coordinator really get into apprenticeship programs? On that note…
“I also want to increase our support for apprenticeships, that’s why I have included an additional $1 million in my budget to expand Iowa’s current apprenticeship program to help more small- and mid-sized employers offer these life-changing opportunities.”
$1,000,000 new expenditure under the Economic Development Authority for a Registered Apprenticeship Program
Again, it’s a nice gesture, but how much progress is Iowa really going to make in skilled jobs from a $1 million expenditure in a $7.4 billion budget? Of course, sometimes these are initial pilot projects that can then be expanded in later years if they see success.
Other Noteworthy Numbers
A handful of other budget lines caught Starting Line’s eye, even if they didn’t make big appearances in Reynolds’ speech.
$332,773 cut in the state’s adoption subsidy program, a peculiar choice for a pro-life party.
$2,648,765 cut to the state’s Family Investment Program, which provides temporary assistance to low-income families to help them find jobs to better support their children.
$75,000 cut to the human trafficking office, which eliminates half of its funding.
by Pat Rynard