The Iowa Legislature announced Saturday: Here’s a look at the state budget

Iowa lawmakers wrapped up the legislative session early Saturday morning, and one of the biggest negotiations was the $8.9 billion state budget for fiscal year 2025.

Because the end-of-session budget takes up the majority of lawmakers’ time, it includes a host of funding priorities and policy demarcations that lawmakers add as final negotiations wrap up.

The education budget sees regent funds increase by 2.5 percent

Iowa lawmakers approved a nearly $1 billion budget for the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Board of Regents and other education-related departments.

The budget includes $35.4 million in new funding, including a 2.5 percent increase in funding for regents universities. The new funding for the University of Iowa totals $5.4 million, with an additional $51,000 increase to the UI Flood Center.

Democrats said the budget did not adequately fund Iowa’s public universities, which they said would mean an increase in student tuition.

“We have been starving our regent universities for a decade and we still do not provide adequate funding for them, and as state support decreases, the financial burden shifts to our students and our families,” Sen. Cindy Winckler, D-Dubuque, said. “Higher tuition means more families, more students ineligible for higher education and unable to afford the demand for much-needed workers.”

RELATED: As tuition prices rise, lawmakers are pondering solutions

Republicans said the bill provides no-strings-attached relief to the regents, but acknowledged that was not the full extent of the regent’s request.

“I was happy that we were able to get an increase for (the regents universities) without boxing it in and saying it would be for this program or that program,” Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Centersaid.

The bill also includes $12.1 million in new appropriations from the general fund as a result of the governor’s Area Education Agency, or AEA, reform law, which moved oversight of Iowa’s AEAs to the new Iowa Department of Special Education Department of Education.

Lawmakers set aside $10 million for the new division and $2.1 million for required professional development that was moved from the AEAs to the Department of Education.

The budget also includes an increase of $1.3 million, or 2.5 percent, in the Iowa Tuition Grants program and $7 million in Community College Aid – an increase of 3 percent.

The bill also includes the following new funding:

  • $25,000 for the Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program.
  • $150,000 for the Future Ready Iowa Workforce Tuition Scholarship.
  • $172,000 to Iowa PBS.

The bill passed the House and Senate along party lines.

HHS budget: $84 million for community-based services for Iowans with disabilities

Lawmakers approved a $2.2 billion budget for the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services and the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs.

The budget includes $88.6 million in new spending, including $84 million in new spending for home and community-based waiver services, which are in-home or community-based services for disabled Iowans, allowing disabled or elderly Iowans to remain in their homes in instead of in an institution. .

There is $14.6 million in new funding, with the remainder of the $84 million going to replenish American Rescue Plan Act funds used to address the service gap.

The new funding includes $5 million for case management services and supports, $1.35 million to increase community-based living rates for children with disabilities, and 70 new spaces for Iowans with intellectual disabilities.

The bill also includes $2.1 million to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health care, and several other rate increases are also included in the budget, including rates for community mental health centers.

The budget also requires the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing to train inspectors twice a year in nursing home inspections and for the department to develop a process for nursing homes to provide feedback on citations.

Administrative budget: Inspection staff for nursing homes is not expanded in the budget

Iowa lawmakers increased funding to the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing, or DIAL, by $260,000 and one full-time employee in the 2025 budget for the state’s administrative and regulatory agencies.

Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Decorah, said the funding is available for DIAL to increase oversight of the state’s nursing home facilities, but the funding is not explicitly tied to nursing home inspections. Iowa is ranked 49th out of all 50 states for nursing homes relationships between inspectors and facilities, and the state is falling behind on federal benchmarks for nursing home inspections.

DIAL is responsible for state and federal nursing home inspections Rep. Megan Srinivas, D-Des Moines, introduced an amendment to the budget to increase the number of nursing home inspectors.

SrinivasThe amendment would free up $1.2 million and 15 full-time employees for nursing home inspections.

“We all realized we are in a crisis in this state.” Srinivas said. “We are clearly failing in the area of ​​nursing home inspections and that is causing people and people’s lives to slip through the cracks and we need to fix that today.”

Bergan said he had received a lot of interest in increasing funding and staffing for nursing home inspections, but the department had not asked for an increase because they are using contractors to address the backlog of COVID-19 cases to grab. The budget parameters of the budget negotiated with the Senate did not take into account the $1.2 million.

The administrative and regulatory budget also includes $600,000 and four full-time Iowa Insurance Division employees to oversee Pharmacy Benefit Managers.

Lawmakers also budgeted $600,000 to the Iowa Secretary of State for cybersecurity and election integrity improvements.

Justice system budget: 12 new public defenders, $2 million for public defense

The justice system budget appropriates $23.8 million in new funding for the justice system budget.

This includes a $2.3 million increase in funding for the state’s attorney’s office, including $2 million from the indigent defense fund to hire twelve new salary attorneys to represent indigent defendants in areas of the state where there is a shortage to contract lawyers. The budget also includes an increase in the indigent defense rate of $3 per hour for contract attorneys.

The Iowa Department of Corrections will also receive $11.9 million in new funding, mainly to cover a pay increase for correctional staff to $24 per hour.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is getting a $2.8 million increase in general operations funding.

The budget provides $1.7 million to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, with $1.2 million going to cover candidate tuition.

Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Des Moines, said sponsoring organizations typically cover the candidate’s share, resulting in paying for the majority of the training. Now the state covers the candidate’s share with general funds.

The bill also includes an increase of $5.1 million and one full-time employee at the Iowa Department of Public Safety; the new employee will implement the new training programs for armed school personnel.

Including judicial pay increase

Lawmakers included in their budgets for this year a 5 percent increase in pay for the judiciary, among other increases, for a total increase to the judiciary budget of $7.6 million.