The following is a legislative update from Republican State Rep. Shannon Latham, representing portions of Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties in Iowa House District 54:
During the fifth week of the 2022 Iowa legislative session, even more subcommittee meetings were held to keep bills “alive” as we approach the first funnel date. House bills must pass through both House subcommittees and full committees by Friday, Feb. 18, to remain eligible for debate this session.
This week the Iowa House debated two education bills on the House floor. More information about those and other issues of interest follows.
K-12 Education is a Priority of Iowa House
Each year the Iowa Legislature sets Supplemental State Aid (SSA), which is the percentage growth in state aid schools. This Iowa House on Feb. 10 passed a bill to set the percent growth for SSA for K-12 schools at 2.5 percent, which equates to $159 million in new money for K-12 public schools. In fact, K-12 educational funding has increased by almost a billion new dollars during the last 10 years.
The House SSA plan also includes a $5 State Cost Per Pupil (SCPP) increase to narrow the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) gap, as well as a transportation equity piece that makes all payments necessary to get all school districts up to the state-wide average when it comes to transportation costs.
In addition, House Republicans passed additional supplemental school aid. House File 2315 appropriates an additional $19.2 million for schools to help pay for para-educators, substitute teachers, bus drivers and support staff and any other expenses that have increased due to high-inflation.
Cyber Security Simulator
The Information Technology Committee, on which I serve, has been gathering information about cybersecurity risks. We also have heard presentations from cybersecurity experts, as well as a first-hand account of a major cyber-attack at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). As a result, several bills have been introduced to help protect Iowans. This week I served on the subcommittee for HSB 669, which creates a cybersecurity simulation training center (CySim) at Iowa State University.
CySim will conduct and sponsor research and activities that enable businesses, state agencies, political subdivisions, as well as students and educators to practice countering and mitigating cyber threats and attacks. HSB 669 passed unanimously through the full IT Committee.
How the State Budget is Set
Because there are many facets of the state budget, I’ve been sharing some background information during each of my weekly articles. This week I want to write about the role of the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), a three-person panel consisting of Director of the Department of Management, Fiscal Services Division Director, and someone from the public, who is agreed upon by the other two members.
The General Assembly and Iowa’s governor are required to use the REC’s December estimate as the basis for next year’s budget. If the December estimate is lowered at a later meeting, the lower estimate is required to be used. If the December estimate is increased at a later meeting, the Legislature is still required to use the December estimate. This requirement ensures the Legislature and the Governor do not spend the state’s taxpayers into negative situation.
The total budget is divided, although not equally, across several budget subcommittees. A budget subcommittee is a small committee designed to provide oversight to specific areas of state government. For example, I serve on the Economic Development Budget Committee. Each Budget Subcommittee approves a budget for its specific areas of oversight. Once approved, that budget moves onto the full House Appropriations Committee of which I serve as vice chair. Appropriations is the main budget committee in the House. The Appropriations Committee then examines each budget approved by the various budget subcommittees. Once a budget is approved by the Appropriations Committee, it is then considered by the entire House. Once approved by the House, the budget moves onto the Senate for consideration.
This week the Iowa Capitol was again teeming with visitors. It was my pleasure to meet with 4-H members and Extension advocates from Franklin and Cerro Gordo Counties. As a former member of both the Butler County 4-H Council and the Iowa State 4-H Council, I know the profound impact Extension youth programs had on my career. I appreciate how many life skills my daughter developed by serving on the Franklin County 4-H Council. This week I also had the pleasure of meeting with local bankers, members of county board of supervisors, and young leaders in the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.