The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa Legislature gaveled out Saturday, here’s a look at the state’s budget

The state budget is $8.9 billion this year.
Ayrton Breckenridge
State representatives stand for a moment of silence for the school shooting that happened in Perry, Iowa, during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. The shooting took place on Jan. 4.

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

With the budget taking the majority of lawmakers’ time at the end of the session, it includes a host of funding priorities and policy delineations that lawmakers add in as final negotiations wrap up. 

Education budget sees 2.5 percent increase in regent funds

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 regent universities. 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 didn’t adequately fund Iowa’s public universities, which they say will bring an increase in tuition for students. 

“We’ve been starving our regent universities for a decade and we still are not providing adequate funding for them and as state support goes down it shifts the financial burden to our students and our families,” Sen. Cindy Winckler, D-Dubuque, said. “Higher tuition means more families, more students are priced out of that higher education opportunity and they are not able to afford the demand for that high need workforce.” 

RELATED: While tuition prices climb, lawmakers ponder solutions

Republicans said the bill gives the regents no-strings-attached aid but acknowledged it wasn’t the regent’s full ask. 

“I was gratified that we were able to have an increase for [the regent universities] without fencing it in and saying it’s going to be for this program or that program,” Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center, said. 

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 bill that moved oversight of Iowa’s AEAs to the Iowa Department of Education’s new Division of Special Education. 

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

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

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 Grant. 
  • $172,000 to Iowa PBS. 

The bill passed the House and Senate along party lines. 

HHS budget: $84 million for community-based care 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 that allow disabled or older Iowans to stay in their home rather than an institution. 

There is $14.6 million in new funding, with the rest of the $84 million going to backfilling American Rescue Plan Act funds used to address the backlog of services. 

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

The bill also includes $2.1 million to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health services, 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 on nursing home inspection twice a year and requires the department to develop a process for nursing homes to offer feedback on citations. 

Administrative Budget: Nursing Home inspection staff not increased in 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 fiscal 2025 budget for the state’s administrative and regulatory agencies. 

Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Decorah, said the funding is available to DIAL to increase oversight of the state’s nursing home facilities, however, the funding is not explicitly tied to nursing home inspections. Iowa is ranked 49th among all 50 states for nursing home inspector-to-facility ratios and the state is falling behind on federal metrics for nursing home inspections. 

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

Srinivas’ amendment would appropriate $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’re clearly failing on the nursing home inspection front and because of that people, people’s lives, are slipping through the cracks and we have to fix that today.”  

Bergan said he had received a lot of interest in increasing nursing home inspection funding and staff but the department had not requested an increase as they use contractors to deal with the backlog of cases from COVID-19. The budget parameters, of the budget negotiated with the Senate, did not account for the $1.2 million. 

The administrative and regulatory agency budget also includes $600,000 and four full-time employees to the Iowa Insurance Division for oversight of 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 to the state public defender’s office, including $2 million from the indigent defense fund to hire 12 new salary attorneys to represent indigent defendants in areas across the state where there are contract attorney shortages. The budget also includes a $3 per hour indigent defense rate increase for contract attorneys. 

The Iowa Department of Corrections will also receive $11.9 million in new funds mostly to cover a pay raise for correctional staff to $24 per hour. 

The Iowa Attorney General’s office will gain a $2.8 million increase in funding for general operations. 

The budget gives $1.7 million to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, $1.2 million of which will go toward covering the candidate’s share of tuition. 

Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Des Moines, said that typically sponsoring agencies end up covering the candidate’s share resulting in paying for the majority of the training. Now with general fund appropriations, the state is covering the candidate’s share. 

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

Judicial pay raise included 

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

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.