Spirit of Citizenship 2018
2018 Legislature in Review
By State Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids
Find bills at www.legis.iowa.gov
More Damage to Iowa’s Working Families, Health Care, Women’s Health, Seniors, Students, Public Safety, and Natural Resources
After the devastation from the 2017 legislative session, the Republican majority in the Iowa Legislature and Governor Reynolds continued to pass legislation that hurts Iowa’s working families, health care, women’s health, seniors, students, public safety, and natural resources. After eight years of the Branstad and Reynolds Administrations, they made significant cuts to vital services and public investments.
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to hurt Iowa workers and their families by making more mid-year budget cuts to education, human services, public safety, and natural resources (SF2117), by cutting income taxes for the wealthiest at the expense of working families (SF2417), and by taking away local control over lease-purchase construction projects to the detriment of local workers (HF2253).
The tax bill (SF2417) made larger income tax cuts – in actual dollars and as a percentage – for the highest income earners than for lower-wage workers. For example, the average 2019 income tax cut for the 2,616 taxpayers making $1 million a year or more is expected to be $18,773, or 15.0%, while a worker making $40,000 a year is expected to receive an average tax cut of $92, or only 8.9%. In addition, the tax bill is expected to raise sales taxes by $132.5 million in 2019. Overall, the state will lose over $400 million in income tax revenue, with a total revenue loss of $255 million in 2019, which will lead to even more Republican budget cuts in the future.
These bad bills came on top of the 2017 session during which the Republican majority reduced the minimum wage for 65,000 Iowans (HF295); circumvented “Buy American” and “prevailing wage” rules for road projects (HF203); created barriers and reduced workers compensation for all future injured workers (HF518); took away local control over worker qualifications for construction projects (SF438); and took away collective bargaining rights from state and local public service workers (teachers, firefighters, police, sanitation workers, etc.) (HF291).
Health Care, including Women’s Health
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds passed the most extreme abortion ban in the country (SF359). This came on top of the 2017 legislative session in which they passed a three-day waiting period (SF471) and took away access to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers for birth control, cancer screenings, and other preventive health services by making those providers ineligible for the family planning program (HF653).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds took away state matching funds for graduate medical education at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Broadlawns, forcing both institutions to cover $8.1 million in non-federal medical school costs (SF2418). This attack on hospitals can on top of 2017, in which hospital reimbursement was cut $27 million (HF653). That funding was not restored in 2018 (SF2418).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut public health by $662,000 (SF2117) and did not restore any funding for addictive disorder treatment (SF2418). State funding for addictive disorder treatment has been cut by $3.7 million since FY16, with an ongoing cut of $2.5 million, or 9% less. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for HF2460 in 2016 with SF2418 in 2018).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds allowed certain agricultural organizations to sell non-insurance health plans that allow discrimination against pre-existing conditions (SF2349). This came after 2017 legislation that took away outreach for the state’s children’s health care programs (HAWK-I and Medicaid) from Iowa’s tax forms (HF625).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut the resource centers at Glenwood and Woodward by a total of $1.7 million, (SF2418), and continued the prior cuts to our two remaining mental health institutes. In 2017, the two mental health facilities (Cherokee and Independence) were cut by $1.7 million (HF653).
Seniors, Children, Families, and Veterans
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds made even more cuts to aging services ($110,012) (SF2117). Since the original budget for FY2017, aging services have been cut by $1.73 million, or over 12%. (Compare “Notes on Bills and Amendments” for SF2418 in 2018 with HF2460 in 2016).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut additional funds for health facility inspections including nursing homes (SF2117/SF2416). Overall, they cut $550,000 from inspections in 2017-18, with an ongoing cut of $357,351 since FY2016 (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2314 (2016) with SF2416).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut an additional $4.3 million from the Department of Human Services (SF2117). Overall, DHS field operations including child support recovery have now been cut by more than $12 million on an ongoing basis since FY2015, or by more than 16%. (Compare “Notes on Bills and Amendments” for SF2418 in 2018 with HF2460 in 2016).
In 2017, the Republican majority cut veterans home ownership assistance by 20% or $500,000 (HF653). In 2018, they did not restore any of that cut to veterans’ home ownership (SF2418).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to hurt our students by short-changing our public schools with the second lowest funding increase (1%) in history of the school funding formula (HF2230). This came on top of the third lowest level (1.1%) in 2017 (SF166).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds again made mid-year cuts to our community colleges ($500,000) and our universities ($10.9 million) (SF2117). These cuts came on top of major cuts to our community colleges and our universities in 2017 (SF130/HF642). Overall, since the original appropriation in FY17, the University of Iowa has been cut $20.7 million, or 9%, Iowa State University has been cut $16.9 million, or 9%, and the University of Northern Iowa has been cut $3.3 million, or 3.4%. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2415 in 2018 with SF2323 in 2016). For the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, funding is now at its lowest levels in actual dollars since 1998.
In addition to the cuts to our community colleges and our universities, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds made additional cuts to the College Student Aid Commission (SF2117/SF2415), which now receives $3.1 million less than it did in the original FY17 appropriation for student financial aid, and $6.7 million less than in FY15. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2415 in 2018 with SF2323 in 2016).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds again cut vocational rehabilitation with a mid-year cut of $54,472 (SF2117). Vocational rehabilitation is now receiving $248,000 less than was appropriated in FY17, or 4% less. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2415 in 2018 with SF2323 in 2016.)
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut the Department of Education ($784,000) which included more cuts to Early Childhood Iowa (SF2117). They did not restore the $1 million cut they made in 2017 (HF642).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to make cuts that jeopardize public safety. They cut an additional $3.4 million from corrections (SF2117). This comes on top of cuts to corrections in 2017 (SF130/SF509) as well as cuts to services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault (SF509). Overall, corrections has been cut $16.3 million over two years, and $3.3 million on an ongoing basis, jeopardizing safety in prisons and leading to higher recidivism from loss of post-release community supervision and services. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for HF2458 in 2016 and HF2492 in 2018).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to make cuts ($1.6 million) to our courts, which play an important role in preventing crime through juvenile services and specialty courts (SF2117). Overall, our courts have lost $7.6 million over two years and $1.1 million on an ongoing basis (See “notes on bills and amendments” for SF130/SF508 in 2017 and SF2117/HF2495 in 2018).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds hurt public safety by passing a so-called “anti-sanctuary city” bill, which is really an unfunded mandate on local government to assist with immigration enforcement, jeopardizing law enforcement relationships with immigrant communities (SF481).
In 2018, the Republican majority also passed a proposed Constitutional amendment for broader gun rights than provided by the Second Amendment (HJR2009). This amendment would have to be passed again in the next General Assembly to go to voters in 2020. This proposed amendment is on top of a bill the Republican majority passed in 2017 to allow expanded use of deadly force, the so-called “stand your ground” bill (HF517).
Water, Energy, and Natural Resources
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds attacked clean energy sources for the first time, ending long-time bipartisan support for clean energy jobs. This attack included a bill that will slash utility energy efficiency investments by over $100 million per year starting in 2019 (SF2311) and a provision to take away the general commercial property tax rollback for new wind energy projects (HF2502).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds made even more cuts to the Department of Natural Resources ($123,000) (SF2117) and to the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Program ($2 million) (HF2491). This comes on top of cuts in 2017. Overall, REAP has been cut by $6 million, or 37%, since the original FY17 appropriation, and the DNR has been cut $1.7 million since the FY16 appropriation. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for HF2491 in 2018 with SF494 in 2015.) This includes a cut of $115,000, or 5.7%, to the DNR for floodplain management. These cuts also come on top of the elimination of funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the elimination of the Watershed Improvement Review program in 2017 (SF510).
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut the Iowa Flood Center an additional $28,778, for a total ongoing cut of $328,778, or 21.9% of total funding (SF2415).
After cutting the Iowa Flood Center, the DNR, the DNR floodplain program, REAP, Watershed Improvement, and the Leopold Center, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds promised they would provide additional funding for the voluntary clean water program in the future (SF512). That promise is another Republican bait-and-switch in the making, with no watershed approach and no monitoring or accountability for results.
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds targeted voters in Linn and Polk Counties by making it harder for them to vote for County supervisors county-wide, rather than by districts, by imposing a two-thirds vote requirement on those two counties to choose county-wide elections (HF2372). This comes on top of their attack on voting rights in 2017 by imposing multiple new government barriers to voting, including restrictive and costly identification requirements and more restrictive absentee voting periods (HF516).
Key Bad Bills from 2017 (see www.legis.iowa.gov)
SF130 – Made major mid-year budget cuts for our community colleges and our universities, courts, corrections, public safety, and human services, and emptied the Cultural Trust Fund
SF166 – Short-changed Iowa’s public school students with third lowest school aid funding level (1.11%)
SF438 – Prohibited local governments from using pre-qualification for project bidders
SF471 – Mandated three-day waiting period before abortions can be obtained
SF509 – Cut state funding for services to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault by 26% ($1.7 million cut) and made additional cuts to corrections ($7.3 million total cut)
SF510 – Ended funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State, eliminated Watershed Improvement Review program, and slashed REAP natural resource funding by 25% ($4 million cut)
HF203 – Circumvented “Buy American” and “prevailing wage” rules for road projects
HF291 – Took away collective bargaining rights from more than 180,000 public service workers
HF295 – Took away local minimum wage increases for 65,000 Iowa workers
HF516 – Created new government barriers to voting, issued costly new voter cards (cost: $700,000+)
HF517 – Allowed expanded use of deadly force, even when a court or jury finds it was not reasonable
HF518 – Created barriers and reduced compensation for injured workers
HF625 – Reduced outreach for our children’s health insurance program (HAWK-I)
HF640 – Cut funds for nursing home inspections ($270,000 cut)
HF642 – Made deeper cuts to university funding (total $24M cut – for University of Iowa and Iowa State University, now lowest level since 1998), cut Iowa Flood Center ($300K cut); cut early childhood programs ($1M cut), and cut vocational rehabilitation for workers with disabilities ($300K cut)
HF653 – Cut field operations for department of human services, reducing child abuse and elder abuse investigations (over $10M cut); cut hospital reimbursements ($27 million); cut veterans home ownership assistance by 20% ($500K cut); cut two remaining mental health institutions ($1.7M cut); and made Planned Parenthood and other health care providers ineligible for family planning program
Key Bad Bills from 2018 (see www.legis.iowa.gov)
SF359 – Ban all abortions after detection of fetal heartbeat (approximately six weeks)
SF481 – Mandated cooperation with ICE on informal detainer requests – so-called “anti-sanctuary city” bill
SF512 – Promise future funding for voluntary clean water practices, but no guarantee of funding, no watershed approach, and no measuring of or accountability for results
SF2117 – More mid-year budget cuts to our community colleges, our universities, vocational rehabilitation, courts, corrections, public health, human services, aging services, and natural resources
SF2311 – Impose 2% cap on utility energy efficiency programs, slashing investment by over $100 million/year
SF2349 – Allow certain agricultural organizations to provide non-insurance health plans that can discriminate
SF2415 – Continued most cuts to our community colleges, our universities, and vocational rehabilitation; did not restore additional mid-year cut to Iowa Flood Center (total cut of $328,778)
SF2416 – Only $50,000 restored toward nursing home inspections (ongoing cut from FY16 of $357,351)
SF2417 – Increase sales tax collections by over $130 million a year; reduce income tax revenue by over $400 million a year which will cause further budget cuts; slash income taxes for million-dollar incomes by average of $18,773 in 2019, while average cut for earners making $40,000 is $92.
SF2418 – Continued 2017 cuts to hospital reimbursement and made Broadlawns and University of Iowa Hospitals pay non-federal share of graduate medical education ($8.1M); addictive disorder funding (substance abuse treatment) has been cut $3.7 million, with an ongoing cut of $2.5M each year
HJR2009 – Constitutional amendment for broader gun rights; no gun regulation unless passes “strict scrutiny”
HF2230 – Shortchanged public school students with 1% funding growth (second lowest in history)
HF2253 – Ban use of lease-purchase agreements by cities and counties that prefer local companies or labor
HF2372 – County districts must use LSA to draw map; for Linn & Polk, 2/3 vote required to elect county-wide
HF2491 – Additional cuts to REAP ($2 million) and DNR; no restoration of DNR floodplain program
HF2492 – Corrections funding: $16.3 million in total cuts in 2017-18; ongoing cut of $3.3M
HF2495 – Judicial Branch funding: $7.6 million in total cuts in 2017-18, ongoing cut is $1.1M
HF2502 – End commercial property tax rollback for new wind energy developments
Good detailed summary of a very grim session. I’m sure most of us can point to the aspects that made us especially grit our teeth. Mine is the continued legislative refusal to acknowledge that the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, so-called, is actually the Keep Industrial Ag Happy Strategy. I’d prefer the latter name. If we Iowans don’t really care about water, either our own or what we inflict on the Gulf, we could at least be honest about it.