Lawmakers look to tackle several key issues in 2018 Legislative Session

The board predicts lawmakers will have to find a way to cut around $45 to $90 million.

Posted: Jan 8, 2018 9:07 PM
Updated: Jan 9, 2018 7:30 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa- The 2018 Iowa Legislative session began Monday and lawmakers are eager to get back to work.
The No. 1 issue all of our local representatives have commented on is the importance of balancing the budget after the Iowa Revenue Estimate Conference predicted a shortfall for the second year in a row.

“Our first focus should be on balancing the budget,” said Democratic State Representative Sharon Steckman.

“We want to make sure that we balance our budget,” said Republican State Representative Tedd Gassman.

“Our revenues came in a little bit shorter than what they estimated and it’s what we are going to have to deal with,” said Republican Senator Waylon Brown.

The board predicts lawmakers will have to find a way to cut around $45 to $90 million.

“That should be a big concern to all Iowans,” said State Representative Todd Prichard. We have almost full employment in the state and we still have to make cuts. Something is really going to have to change.”

"It’s going to come from where we think it’s most appropriate,” said Representative Gassman. “There are some things that we do here that are less important and that’s where it’s going to have to come from.”

Local policymakers say they worry about where some of these cuts will be made, but tax reform is something lawmakers are still looking in to.

“We do have a higher rate and it’s a little complicated,” says Representative Jane Bloomingdale. “We can simplify tax returns and flatten the rates out just a little bit.”

“We haven’t seen the proposal for the cuts yet, but we are all concerned what services they will impact,” said State Senator Amanda Ragan. “It will have an impact on the lives of Iowans.”

While legislators are looking at a statewide reform with mixed feelings, federal tax reform is taking shape as well leaving local representatives wondering what this could mean when it goes in to place.

“The federal deductibility amounts change, meaning there will be impacts to the budget,” says Representative Prichard. “It will be a necessity that there will be some impact to the budget and to Iowans from tax reform.”

According to local representatives we spoke with, the state did see a two-percent increase from the year previous, and the Iowa Revenue Estimate Conference predicts a four-percent increase for the next fiscal year.

Water quality is an issue local lawmakers say needs to be addressed this year. They say there are currently two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, while other representatives say they want to see the IWILL fund put to use.

Local educators are also pushing for local lawmakers to support two funds that have a sunset.

The SAVE fund expires in 2029, but local schools want to see this fund extended now to help keep them from having to raise property taxes.

The fund is a cent sales tax that schools use to bond out infrastructure projects. Educators we spoke with say because the sunset is 2029 and most bonds are for 20 years, it puts them in a tough spot to try and utilize the funds.

The Operational Sharing Incentives is also set to expire, something several schools in our area utilize. The incentive allows for schools to share specific school employees such as superintendents. This allows the school to save money and accept additional children for potential increases.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62303

Reported Deaths: 1724
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19677840
Ramsey7775269
Dakota4558106
Anoka3792115
Stearns291320
Washington219247
Olmsted178123
Nobles17736
Scott160822
Mower11072
Rice10428
Blue Earth9415
Wright9035
Carver8903
Clay79240
Sherburne73710
Kandiyohi7051
St. Louis60020
Todd4292
Lyon4253
Freeborn3601
Nicollet35113
Steele3512
Watonwan3281
Benton3233
Winona26516
Beltrami2490
Crow Wing24614
Le Sueur2301
Martin2095
McLeod2080
Chisago2071
Goodhue2029
Otter Tail1983
Cottonwood1770
Becker1611
Pipestone1589
Polk1564
Waseca1490
Itasca14612
Carlton1450
Douglas1442
Unassigned13346
Dodge1310
Isanti1310
Pine1290
Murray1241
Chippewa1091
Morrison931
Wabasha920
Brown892
Faribault890
Meeker872
Rock850
Sibley842
Koochiching803
Jackson790
Cass762
Pennington751
Mille Lacs723
Fillmore710
Renville675
Lincoln590
Grant563
Swift551
Roseau530
Yellow Medicine520
Pope480
Houston440
Aitkin401
Norman400
Kanabec372
Redwood360
Hubbard350
Wilkin353
Marshall290
Mahnomen271
Wadena270
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake220
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle80
Cook50
Lake of the Woods40
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49830

Reported Deaths: 948
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10535208
Woodbury375452
Black Hawk318066
Linn244588
Johnson212320
Dallas191335
Buena Vista179712
Scott175814
Dubuque172231
Marshall145226
Pottawattamie135029
Story118115
Wapello92733
Muscatine85748
Webster8428
Crawford7363
Sioux6503
Cerro Gordo64417
Warren5821
Tama55629
Jasper48427
Wright4781
Plymouth47412
Clinton4214
Dickinson3854
Louisa37814
Washington30510
Boone2663
Hamilton2521
Franklin24812
Bremer2317
Clarke2063
Clay2031
Carroll1962
Des Moines1942
Emmet1934
Shelby1871
Hardin1850
Marion1770
Floyd1633
Benton1601
Poweshiek1598
Allamakee1584
Jackson1581
Mahaska14217
Guthrie1375
Henry1364
Cedar1351
Jones1342
Buchanan1301
Butler1272
Madison1272
Delaware1231
Hancock1232
Humboldt1221
Lee1214
Lyon1192
Pocahontas1182
Cherokee1101
Harrison1101
Clayton1083
Taylor1000
Iowa971
Winneshiek971
Page960
Kossuth950
Mills931
Monona910
Palo Alto900
Winnebago890
Jefferson870
Calhoun862
Fayette860
Sac860
Osceola850
Cass821
Grundy821
Mitchell800
Union781
Monroe748
Lucas734
Worth680
Davis612
Montgomery604
Chickasaw560
Appanoose523
Howard500
Fremont440
Greene420
Keokuk391
Van Buren361
Adair340
Ida320
Audubon291
Decatur260
Ringgold231
Wayne201
Adams170
Unassigned70
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