Last Friday the Revenue Estimating Conference met. This process gives us final revenue projections as we start preparing our budgets for the next fiscal year. Because of the pro-growth policies we have continued to pass throughout the last several years, Iowa has seen economic growth even through these last several months, and more growth is predicted in the coming year. This is great news as we work towards tax relief for Iowans and their families.
Senate Republicans released their Fiscal Year 2022 budget targets this week. We are calling for a total budget of $7.999 billion, which is an increase of $195 million from the previous year. This amount represents 94 percent of available revenue. As always, we believe it is wise fiscal policy to establish a budget that has some cushion as opposed to those who believe we should spend every dollar available.
The main features of the FY 2022 budget targets are an $80 million increase in education funding, including an increase of $55.3 million for K-12 education and an increase of $25 million for higher education, and including additional dollars for Last Dollar Scholarships. Health care funding rises by $98.1 million. This includes an increase of $15 million for provider increases for nursing homes and home and community-based service providers, and an increase of $60 million for mental health services.
Public safety spending also goes up by $13 million including an increase of almost $5 million for the Department of Public Safety and just over $4 million increase for the Department of Corrections. Broadband funding, because it is not a recurring expense, is not included in this announcement but a significant investment will be made in improving that service.
Our budget includes the elimination of the triggers passed in the 2018 tax bill and the phasing out of the inheritance tax, as I highlighted in last week’s newsletter. Our FY2022 budget also calls for over $100 million in property tax relief.
Over the last several years we have passed responsible, conservative budgets while continuing to fund priority areas like education, health care, and public safety. These conservative budgeting practices have earned Iowa the number one ranking as the most fiscally sound, most resilient state in the nation in a July 2020 study by the Council of State Governments. This budget continues those fundamentally sound fiscal policies.
This week the Senate advanced Senate Study Bill 1253, which cuts property taxes for Iowans and allocates additional funding for mental health in Iowa. SSB 1253 provides more state funding for mental health, simplifies the tax code and cuts property taxes for Iowans by over $100 million. In the first year, the bill provides $60 million in state funding for mental health and $125 million in the second year.
Senate Republicans have been dedicated to providing tax relief for hard-working Iowans, and this bill continues that goal, while also providing a more sustainable funding source for important mental health services in Iowa and controlling the growth of government. In 2018, Republicans passed the largest income tax cut in Iowa history, and now this legislation delivers real property tax relief for Iowans and their families.
The 2021 session is on a fast pace. We are now continuing the committee process for consideration of bills that have come over from the House, while finishing up floor debate and voting on Senate bills. I am personally continuing to work on bills that I have initiated including SF581, relating to controlling the deer population in Iowa, SF470, which is my attempt to update the “bottle bill,” and SF352, which calls for improvements in the Forest Reserve program, a very important priority for many in Senate District 40.
I continue to receive many emails from around my district and around the state. Just so you know, I do personally read all my emails. I respond to those that require a response, and all are filed in a folder so I can easily track constituents’ comments and voting preferences. Please stay in touch.