|Tyler Olson Capitol Update (March 28, 2012)|
The full House approved the education budget bill I discussed in detail leading off last week’s update. $31 million cut to state universities. Tuition increases for years to come. Fewer resources for young and/or underemployed and unemployed Iowans to go to community colleges to learn the skills they need to enter the workforce. Businesses unable to grow or locate in Iowa because of a skilled workforce shortage.
These are a few examples of long-term problems resulting from the education cuts. The first article in this week’s update puts some perspective on the state’s financial status. During the debate on the education budget Republicans acknowledged Iowa’s stable fiscal situation and responded to amendments aimed at restoring cuts to universities and community colleges by acknowledging a philosophical difference. That philosophical difference is really the heart of matter. I strongly believe education should be a top priority and voted to do more than talk about it.
We should be moving toward the end of the session. This week’s video highlights some issues we still need to resolve and gives an update on work I’ve been doing with the Senate to include individualized learning in its education reform package.
On to the update…
In This Issue
1. Revenue Estimating Conference Sees Growth Uptick
2. Agreement Reached to Keep Iowa Workforce Development Open
3. Birth Certificates for Stillbirths Signed Into Law
4. Capitol Visits
Revenue Estimating Conference Sees Growth Uptick
State budget experts met last Friday and determined Iowa’s economy continues to improve and the state budget remains on stable ground. The three-member Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) raised its revenue estimate for the current fiscal year by $51 million and added $29 million to projected revenue growth in fiscal year 2013. Surplus and reserves are projected at $1 billion at the end of the fiscal year.
The State is estimated to bring in $6.051 billion in the current fiscal year, an increase of $152 million from the previous year. The Legislature is crafting the fiscal year 2013 budget based on the revenue estimate of $6.252 billion, even though the new estimate is now $6.281 billion. Excess funds will flow to the state reserves and surplus, which will exceed $1 billion with reserves of $595 million and a $437 million surplus.
Agreement Reached to Keep Iowa Workforce Development Open
After the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Governor Terry Branstad illegally shut down 36 workforce centers across Iowa last year, legislators have reached a compromise to make sure Iowans who need help finding a job can still get it.
The bipartisan agreement restores $20 million in funding to Iowa Workforce Development that was nullified as a result of the Governor’s unconstitutional veto. The agreement keeps existing workforce development field offices and unemployment offices open and continues Iowa’s worker compensation and worker misclassification programs. The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill this week and the Senate has also taken action. The Legislature has two weeks to pass the legislation before the Supreme Court’s ruling goes into effect, voiding all current workforce development funding.
Birth Certificates for Stillbirths Signed Into Law
A law allowing for birth certificates to be issued when a pregnancy ends in stillbirth was signed into law this week. Under the new law hen there is a stillbirth parents must be advised they may request a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth. The certificate is entirely voluntary for the parents. The bill is also retroactive to any previous births resulting in stillbirth, so even parents that experienced a birth resulting in stillbirth previous to the enactment of the bill may request a certificate.
The Department of Public Health will determine the process for issuing the certificates.
Tuesday was University of Iowa Day at the Capitol. I spoke with a number of students at the university including Will Reasoner, Andy Bates and Thomas Bentley. There were a lot of folks from the College of Law at the Capitol including Dean Gail Agarwal, Brian Farrell, Janey Jill Piersall, Richard Koontz and Jill DeYoung. Leah Rodenberg with Alliant Energy was also in Des Moines on Tuesday.
Allison Heffern, Ed Blando, Dan Moore, Scott Brennan and Ian Russel were all in Des Moines for the Iowa State Bar Association Board of Governors meeting. Steve Carroll and Kevin Stucker with the Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative visited the Capitol on Wednesday. I also visited with John Tuthill of Wendling Quarries and Adam Mannatt of Mannats Inc.
My favorite visitors of the year were here this week. My family had the chance to come visit during spring break. They had a lot of fun visiting the zoo and catching up with friends and we were able to eat meals together and spend time with each other in the evening.
Enjoy the rest of the week!
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