Newsletter for Thursday, March 16, 2017
On Wednesday, March 15th, we honored "Canada Day" in the House. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and two other officials from Canada gave remarks to the members of the House on the relationship between Iowa and Canada. House Resolution 10 was read and passed in honor of over 200 years of peace, prosperity and kinship between the peoples of the USA and Canada. It is estimated that over 100,000 jobs in Iowa are supported by trade and investment with Canada. Canada is Iowa's top export market, with Iowa exports to Canada valued at $3.8 billion annually and Iowa imports from Canada valued at $2.8 billion annually.
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on Tuesday, and delivered new estimates for the current year revenue, Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), that ends June 30, and for Fiscal Year 2018 that begins July 1. The news for FY17 is not ideal. In December the estimate was lowered by $118 million and the legislature de-appropriated that amount early this session. Now, with only 3 months to go in FY17, the REC has reduced the estimate by another $131 million due to lagging personal income and sales tax revenue. This $249 million total reduction in revenue is roughly 3.4% below the original estimate that our appropriations were based on. This late in the year it is increasingly difficult to make further cuts, as much of the money has already been spent. It is quite possible that this $131 million shortfall will be covered using our Cash Reserve Fund which would need to be paid back to the fund in the next one to two years.
State Rep. Dean Fisher
The FY18 budget picture is slightly better with an estimate of $7.364 billion. However, given the revenue shortfalls of the last few years I am even more adamant that we must voluntarily reduce our statutory 99% spending limitation further, to 97% or even 96% of the REC estimate in order to provide ourselves with a much needed cushion against the uncertainty in the economy. At 97% we would have very little "new money" to spend, but we would have greater confidence in meeting our obligations with that 3% cushion. I will be advocating hard for this strategy in the weeks to come in the Appropriations committee.
The Appropriations committee has also begun to look at our Tax Credit situation. A bill has been introduced to limit the liability of these credits to $400 million this year, with annual reductions of $10 million per year each year thereafter. We will also be seeking to limit the "refund-ability" of these tax credits, meaning that a corporation or individual could not cash in tax credits beyond the limit of their income tax liability.
This week we passed two bills that I feel will especially have a positive impact on the lives of many Iowans. We passed House File 577 dealing with Lyme Disease Treatment. The Iowa medical board for years has disciplined doctors that treated Lyme Disease, forcing Iowa victims of this disease to seek treatment out of state. This bill restricts the medical board from this sort of action. I've heard from many that have suffered from this disease, and I am proud to have supported this bill in order to allow them to get treatment here in Iowa.
The second bill, House File 215, requires insurance companies to provide coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis for children suffering from Autism. This treatment has proven very successful in improving the behavior of autism sufferers, especially when applied very early in life. While I am generally resistant to mandates like this, this requirement when applied early will over time save the families and other social services considerable money thanks to the improved behaviors and better quality of life that these children will experience as adults. In the long run it is a win-win for everyone.
As always, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 641-750-3594.