Week 20 in the Iowa Senate

Guest Column
Tod Bowman
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

     Iowa law requires us to balance the state budget. A fiscally responsible budget is a priority for all Iowans. Iowa law states that we cannot spend more than 99 percent of expected revenue.

     Iowa’s Revenue Estimating Conference, a panel of nonpartisan budget experts, met last week to assess state revenues and expenses. They reported that Iowa has a shortfall of $131 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30; and less growth than expected for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

     So why is the revenue outlook down? Numerous tax credits are to blame. Tax credits have outpaced general revenue increases by 4:1. Tax credits, such as the consumables tax credit enacted by the Branstad Administration through executive order, have hurt our budget in regard to available dollars. I believe the consumables tax credit was underestimated in regard to how widely it would be used.

     There are also other variables, like low commodity prices for our farm products that have caused the lower-than-expected revenues. This means that we will have to find additional areas to make cuts or use our rainy day funds to cover the difference.

     Thursday, March 16, was Arthritis Awareness Day on the Hill, and I had the opportunity to meet with a young girl named Sophia who has been diagnosed with arthritis. Although she has been diagnosed with this terrible disease at a young age, she was full of life. Her mother told me it is a little deceiving because Sophia has great pain, but she hasn’t known anything different, so she has learned to cope.

     The group that accompanied her was advocating for SF 436/HF 233, which would make Fail First protocols based on widely accepted clinical guidelines so that medicine – not cost – dictate requirements. Fail First requirements are used by health plans to control the order and use of prescription drugs. A patient may be required to try and fail on lower-cost or older drugs that are selected by their health plans before coverage is granted for the drug prescribed by the health care provider.

     On Wednesday, March 15, I had the opportunity to have a student from Midland Community High School job shadow me at the Capitol. Sydney Stender is a wonderful young woman who is planning on going to Iowa State University to study Ag Communications. She is very involved in her high school, participating in numerous sports and clubs, such as FFA.

     She attended subcommittee and committee meetings at the Capitol. She met with a few lobbyists and constituents to hear about issues that are important to Iowans. She even got to attend a Democratic caucus to hear how the party members discuss issues. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.


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