Every year the Legislature is required to pass a budget. For a number of necessary reasons, the budget bills are usually among last ones we pass at the end of the Legislative session. The last step in the process is when the governor signs or vetoes in whole or in part each of the eleven budget bills. Unlike previous years, the governor’s veto pen saw relatively little use as he reviewed and signed all the bills.
The governor used his line-item veto on four of the budget bills:
• Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations (Senate File 510) — The governor vetoed parts of the Ag and Natural Resources budget bill, which would have repealed the language in the Iowa Code creating the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. The governor’s actions mean the Leopold Center still exists, but the funding that had gone to the Center in previous years will still be moved to the Iowa Nutrient Research Center for use in Iowa’s efforts to improve water quality. Ongoing funding of the Leopold Center will now be up to Iowa State University.
• Economic Development Appropriations (Senate File 513) - The governor used his line-item veto authority to clean up a conflict regarding the Rent Subsidy program, run by the Iowa Finance Authority. The appropriations bill gave IFA the power to determine who was eligible for the program, but this conflicted with provisions already enacted into law this year in House File 586, which gave eligibility determination authority to the Department of Human Services. The governor struck the provisions in Senate File 513.
• Health and Human Services Appropriations (House File 653) – The governor struck several provisions from the HHS bill, but not as many as had been vetoed in previous years. Among the items struck were reporting requirements concerning expenditures at the Iowa Veterans Home, Medicaid and DHS general administration. This is not the first year that the governor has chosen to veto similar provisions requiring additional information to be reported to the Legislature.
• The governor struck a one-time allocation from the Autism Support Program to Drake University for the establishment of a master’s program in applied behavioral analysis, which is one of the leading ways of treating children with autism. The subcommittee included this language after a request to have the University of Iowa establish a similar program was rebuffed by the Board of Regents. The governor stated that the Department of Education has awarded Drake $200,000 for the establishment of the program, so the new allocation was not needed.
The governor also vetoed language providing a $200,000 allocation for the University of Iowa’s College of Direct Support to provide Internet-based training for mental health and disability services providers. The governor stated that provider associations already conduct training sessions and DHS provides assistance when needed.
The governor vetoed two provisions related to nursing home reimbursement rates. While the governor maintained the $2.5 million increase in funds for Medicaid nursing home rates, he did veto two provisions related to how those rates are calculated. The governor also vetoed language stating Medicaid reimbursement rates for certain provider groups would not be lower than the reimbursement rates as of April 1, 2016.
Gov. Branstad also used his item-veto authority to strike two provisions from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget bill (House File 643). The governor vetoed funding for infrastructure projects at the state’s Community Action Agencies, and struck language directing the Department of Administrative Services to create a list of unused buildings owned by the state.
The other seven budget bills were signed with no changes.
With the governor’s actions, the FY 2018 General Fund budget is set at $7.268 billion. This includes the $7.248 billion allocated among the various departmental budgets and $20 million to the Cash Reserve Fund.
When we left town about this time last year, the FY 2017 budget was set at $7.351 billion. That number was arrived at after following 99 percent spending limitation law that requires us to spend less than the forecast given to us by the Revenue Estimating Conference.
Due to revenue forecasts that ended up missing the mark, we were forced to make cuts to both fiscal years. Hopefully, as the 2017 fiscal year wraps up at the end of next month and we move into the next fiscal year, those adjustments will help us avoid having to adjust the FY 2018 budget midstream next year.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Home phone: 515-382-2352, E-mail: Dave.Deyoe@legis.iowa.gov