Filing of bills and committee work is increasing as we finish the third week. The Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) de-appropriation of $117 million was passed out of committee on Tuesday, setting it up for debate by the House next week. The de-appropriation did not impact K-12 education per the governor's initial request, and House Republicans worked to considerably soften the proposed cuts to community college funding and public safety, in keeping with Iowan's priorities.
With the de-appropriation for FY17 resolved, we are now moving forward with Fiscal Year 2018 budget discussions. Based on the December revenue estimate the House, Senate, and Governor have agreed to a maximum spending level of $7.455 billion. This limit respects the statutory 99% spending limit plus a $25 million spending reduction agreed to in the FY17 de-appropriation. However, House Republicans have NOT agreed to spend the $7.455B level. As I have advocated, spending at the 99% level has proven risky because it is based on a revenue estimate, and actual revenue in recent years has fallen short of the estimates. I have advocated that we reduce our spending limit by one percent each year, providing us with a cushion against revenue shortfalls as well as allowing for some savings. That would put us at a 98% spending limit for Fiscal Year 2018, which would still allow for a spending limit $125 million above FY17 spending.
State Rep. Dean Fisher
House File 30 - Beverage Container Redemption - This bill was requested by a local beverage container redemption business. Iowa passed a beverage container redemption bill in 1978, calling for a five cent deposit and a one cent fee to be paid to the redemption centers that return the container to the bottler. This one cent fee is paid by the bottler, the five cent deposit simply passes through to each person that handles the container. This one cent fee per container hasn't changed since 1978, that amount is no longer adequate to cover the costs of redeeming these containers. Many redemption centers have gone out of business as a result. My bill seeks to increase this fee to three cents per container without changing the five cent deposit, giving the redemption centers sufficient revenue to stay open.
House File TBD - Eliminating the Fine Arts Mandate for State Buildings - This bill will seek to eliminate the mandate in section 304A of the Iowa Code that all state building projects will include no less than one-half of one percent of the total estimated cost will be spent on "fine arts elements". This inflates the cost of state building projects by one-half percent or more. This is spending that is inappropriate for state government to mandate. There is no doubt that many Iowans love art, I certainly do. I've had the good fortune to have visited many art museums throughout the world and have spent some of my own hard earned dollars on works that I've appreciated. Any honest art lover would have to admit that one man's art is another man's junk. Art is personal, and it is private. What I spend my money on may not be appreciated by another. Thus, purchasing art is not something that should be subject to mandate by state government. Eliminating this code section will not prevent state building projects from including art in their design and dcor, but will instead force those appropriating funds for state building projects to justify what they wish to spend on art in that dcor on a case by case basis.
As always, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 641-750-3594