2024 legislature’s focus shifts to state budget

DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa House have released an overall state spending goal for the next budgeting year that’s $82 million higher than Republicans in the Iowa Senate have proposed. It’s also slightly higher than Governor Reynolds proposed in January.

Republican Representative Gary Mohr of Bettendorf is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.  “Quite honestly it’s because we have 100 members who represent their constituents who have suggested needs,” Mohr says. “…With our available resources, we feel very comfortable the state can afford to do that.”

Mohr says the plan spends substantially less than projected tax revenue in the coming year, leaving room to — perhaps — adopt deeper cuts in the state income tax. Mohr says just because there’s more tax money that could be spent doesn’t mean it should be spent.  “That’s why we build a budget for the state for the next year that meets the needs in the area of justice systems, courts, education, economic development, health and human services,” Mohr says, “and anything left over we think needs to go back to the taxpayers of Iowa.”

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver says he’s optimistic the Republican-led legislature will do more for the taxpayer before the 2024 session ends. Democrats say Iowans deserve more information about the tax and spending plans Republicans are developing — and public schools deserve more state support. Last week the governor signed a bill into law that sets the general level of state spending on K-12 students in public and private schools. It also raised pay for public school teachers and other school staff.

Mohr, the Republican who leads the House Appropriations Committee, says a majority of state funding is spent on Iowa’s education system, so that’s a major milestone. “We’re down to hopefully the last two or three weeks of session and that’s being optimistic,” Mohr says. “…The big priority over the next two or three weeks is passing these budget bills.”

April 16th is the 100th day of the 2024 legislative session. That’s the date daily expense payments for lawmakers end and it’s considered the target date for adjourning the annual legislative session.