This last week the Iowa House of Representatives were busy passing some important budget bills, such as Health & Human Services (HHS), Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF), and Administration & Regulation.

The HHS bill designates $7.7 million to make child care more affordable for low-income families by increasing provider rates, $5.9 million to fund an additional 29 DHS Field Operations employees to reduce caseloads for state social workers, and $4.4 million in funding for Iowa’s 82 Critical Access Hospitals in rural Iowa to ensure accessible health care. Also, there’s $3.1 million to eliminate the waiting list for children’s mental health home and community-based services, $2.8 million to fund Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams to support individuals with mental illness, and $400,000 to establish 4 new rural psychiatric residency slots to ensure access to mental health care in rural Iowa.

The RIIF bill is designating $200 million to be invested in FY20 to improve infrastructure at state facilities and Regent universities. Also, $24 million to be invested in major and routine maintenance to ensure safe state buildings and facilities. $17.5 million is designated to make technology upgrades at state departments to ensure modern and efficient government, and $5 million for the Broadband Grant Program to increase access to high-speed internet in rural Iowa.

In the Administration & Regulation bill, $2 million to update and improve the Dept. of Revenue’s systems to ensure efficiency and security for taxpayers, $4.7 million to ensure safe health facilities like hospitals and nursing homes through inspections and licensing, $2.6 million to fund the Child Advocacy Board which represents the interests of abused and neglected children, and $18 million to fund IPERS administration which provides retirements benefits to hundreds of thousands of Iowans.

There is a House Study Bill which deals with property taxes, which will give more transparency with how property is taxed, referring to the assessed values and the levies. There could be a potential soft cap of 2% for local governments to grow annually. Any proposals more than the 2% increase cap will require local city councils or county supervisors to have a public vote. This will let the citizens determine if a larger increase is needed – giving more local control!

Last but not least, here is a chance to help a fellow Iowan. The flooding in the western part of the state is a true disaster, and a donation through the Benton County Corn board will donate 100% of the money raised to farmers who have been affected, which has devastated the agricultural industry in south west Iowa. Benton County Corn will be working with the Iowa Corn District 7 Committee (SW Iowa) to assess what farmers in the area need most at this time, whether it is cleaning supplies, fencing supplies, clothes, groceries, feed. Not only do these farmers need material things, but they need our support in every aspect, as they try to move forward from this catastrophe. Please feel free to reach out to anyone on the Benton County Corn board, District 7 Committee or District Field Managers with Iowa Corn. Danielle Balvin-

District Field Manager, 515-802-9923. Checks may be sent to Benton County Corn Growers, 5736 28th Ave., Vinton IA 52349.

These are just a few of the bills we are working on to improve Iowans’ lives while holding spending within our state budget’s limits. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, I’ll get to them as soon as possible. Please be safe out there!

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