Capitol Review 2-12-16

The Truth about Medicaid Modernization

subcommitte1Over the last several years, Iowa’s Medicaid system has been growing at an unsustainable rate. Reform is not optional, it’s necessary. In 2002, 1 in 11 Iowans were on some sort of state-administered health program, but today that number has grown to 1 in 5 Iowans. Medicaid is the second largest program in state government.  Its growth threatens the state’s ability to provide additional funding to schools.

According to LSA, state revenue grew by 2.7% between 2006 and 2015.  Funding for schools grew at 4.3%, while funding for Medicaid grew by 9.1%.  General Fund spending on Medicaid has increased by 133%, growing from $557 million in FY 2003 to $1.3 billion in FY 2016.  Over the last several years, Iowa’s Medicaid system has been growing at an unsustainable rate. Reform is not optional, it’s necessary. In 2002, 1 in 11 Iowans were on some sort of state-administered health program, but today that number has grown to 1 in 5 Iowans. Medicaid is the second largest program in state government.  Its growth threatens the state’s ability to provide additional funding to schools.

Medicaid Modernization will create predictability and sustainability in the Medicaid budget.  In FY 2017, Medicaid costs will increase $41 million even with managed care.  Without it, costs would increase $151 million.

All four major hospital systems have signed with a managed care organization (Genisis, Mercy, UIHC, UnityPoint). Benefits under managed care do not change, but the managed care organizations will provide over 80+ value-added services Medicaid patients do not currently receive.

Patients can switch to a different managed care organization at any time for any reason between now and May 17, 2016.  After that date, patients can still switch for good cause (e.g., provider not signed up with a MCO).  There will also be an annual open enrollment period in the late fall to choose a different managed care organization.  34,406 Medicaid patients have actively selected an MCO as of 1-22-16.Democrats are fighting to keep the status quo intact and are offering no alternatives to improve services, outcomes, or combat the ever-growing costs of Medicaid. Senate democrats call for an immediate end to the transition, yet want to reap the benefits by including over $100 million of savings in their budget targets.

If Senate Democrats opposition to Medicaid Modernization succeeds, the Legislature will have to find an additional $121.8 million in the FY 2017 budget to maintain the status quo in Medicaid.  K-12 Supplemental State Aid (SSA) already received nearly all of the $153 million in projected revenue growth.  If Medicaid Modernization isn’t implemented, K-12 schools will likely feel the impact through reduced funding.

Combating the Global Crime of Human Trafficking

While Americans were watching football and enjoying a tailgate party on Sunday, peace officers in California were focused on a much darker issue, rescuing human trafficking victims from those who seek to do them harm. Large sporting events bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, it normally means an influx of human traffickers and their victims.  This was the case around Santa Clara, California the home of Super Bowl 50. 

According to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office there were 42 potential human trafficking victims identified and as of last report, more than 20 of them have been put in touch with social workers to receive additional assistance. Officers also arrested 30 men for soliciting prostitution. In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Ryan Murphy, a member of the Denver Broncos practice squad was stopped and questioned in a prostitution sting near Santa Clara.

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and generates $32 billion. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that a child is between the age of 12 and 14 when they are first used in commercial sex trafficking. These numbers show how truly dangerous human trafficking is in Iowa and around the world.  

Victims of sex trafficking are overwhelmingly female (93%), according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. A majority of these victims, 53%, are under the age of 17. It is estimated that over 76% of the suspects charged with human trafficking are male.

There is no doubt that human trafficking is a serious problem around the country. House Republicans have several bills proposed to focus on training law enforcement and the general public on how to recognize human trafficking and the best ways to help victims.

Visitors this Week

FUANMembers of (FUAN) Families United Action Network

students waterlooStudents from Waterloo

Capitol Review 2-5-16

Voters are Energized

Over 186,000 Iowa Republicans cast ballots on caucus night this week, setting a new record for total turnout and participation. Many attendees were first-time caucus-goers, showing that Iowans are clearly energized, enthusiastic, and ready for a change of president. I was honored to speak at my own Precinct on caucus night where 274 people showed up!

What is Coupling and Why is it Important?

The coupling bill updates Iowa law to conform to certain tax changes enacted by Congress.  It is always important that this bill is passed quickly as tax preparers and accountants need to know what deductions Iowans can take on their 2015 income taxes.   If the Legislature fails to act on coupling, the result is a $96 million tax increase on hardworking Iowans. Section 179, of the tax code, allows businesses to write off capital investments, benefiting more than 70,000 businesses and individuals each year. Failing to couple with Section 179 will disproportionally hurt our small businesses and farmers that have made investments at a time when they’re already facing many challenges and uncertainties.    House Republicans know that incentives like Section 179 allow small business owners to make investments and grow jobs in their communities. House Republicans are committed to giving taxpayers a seat at the table, which House File 2092 accomplishes. The tax coupling bill has an impact on the FY 2016 ending balance and the FY 2017 on-going revenue levels.  Any agreement will impact discussions on school aid and budget targets.   The Governor has already recommended a plan for coupling that has a negligible effect on FY 2016 revenue while adding an additional $48.5 million to FY 2017.  The Governor’s plan is to not couple at all for tax year 2015.  That means that taxpayers would not be able to take advantage of any of the tax extenders Congress just passed that have an Iowa component when they do their taxes this April.   The Governor then recommends permanently coupling with the IRC in tax year 2016 with the exception of Section 179 expensing or bonus depreciation. The Governor’s plan permanently leaves out those provisions. Section 179 expensing is an accelerated depreciation mechanism for business purposes and bonus depreciation is something similar to that except for larger expenses. The Governor’s recommended coupling provisions are estimated to have a negligible impact on FY 2016 General Fund revenues while increasing FY 2017 General Fund revenues by $49.2 million.   The House approved a different plan on Thursday, Jan. 28.  The House plan couples with everything except bonus depreciation in tax year 2015.  It also does not add the permanency of the Governor’s plan.  There is a $95.7 million impact on FY 2016 revenue/ending balance.  That money goes directly to taxpayers.  Additionally, $86.5 million is added to FY 2017 on-going revenue with roughly $55 million of that available for appropriation under the state’s expenditure limitation law.   Senate Democrats have given no indication on their plan for tax coupling which complicates and slows down the budget process this session

Senate Democrat’s Puzzling Budget Numbers

Senate Democrat’s released budget targets which spend about $70 million more than the state collects in on-going revenue. As a percentage, they spend 101.1% of on-going revenue. Senate Democrats did not release their plans on Medicaid savings or tax coupling or even a simple balance sheet which makes it difficult to see a complete picture of their spending plans.

As part of their targets they propose an early retirement plan that “saves” taxpayers $10.6 million.  House Republicans are extremely skeptical that is a reliable number.  Last session Senate Democrats proposed a similar plan which resulted in zero savings.  It was rejected by House GOP budget negotiators.

Senate Democrats are proposing a 4% increase in Supplemental State Aid for schools but the money necessary to fund that 4% increase is not included in their budget targets.  To fund 4% they need to provide an additional $65.8 million in spending within the target for the Standings Bill.  But only $2.9 million more is provided. That means either they have cut another area included in the Standings Bill – such as property tax credits – or they are willfully underfunding their 4% SSA increase and instead forcing property taxpayers to pay more to make up for their lack of funding.

Visitors at the Capitol


Dr. Anthony D. Voss, Superintendent of Hudson Schools

Capitol Review 1-29-16

Education Funding

This week House Republicans passed a funding increase for K-12 schools totaling $81 million. When combined with money for Teacher Leadership, this represents 84% of the state’s new available revenue going to education.

Since Republicans reclaimed the majority in the Iowa House, the number of full-time teachers in Iowa classrooms has increased by 809. While Democrats held the Iowa House, the number of full-time teachers dropped by 907.

full time teachers

Fiscal Year 2017 State Budget

The state is projected to have $153 million in new available revenue next fiscal year, with nearly $200 million of built-in spending increases. Some will claim that there is more than $153 million to spend. That is because they are willing to use ending balance (what I call our “savings account”).  The savings account will be less than $100 million after this year.

The State’s economy is strong, but growth is slowing. There is no economic emergency, but with slow growth we will need to be very strategic with the commitments we make.

Fighting for Taxpayers, Providing Certainty

House Republicans are committed to giving taxpayers a seat at the table, which House File 2092 (federal income tax coupling bill) accomplishes, and chalks up a win for nearly all taxpayers.

Who benefits from House File 2092?

-          Small businesses are the drivers of our economy. HF 2092 is the only proposal that helps them make investments in their businesses so they can grow and create even more jobs in our communities.

-          Teachers will be able to deduct out-of-pocket expenses related to classroom supplies.

-          Seniors will be able to give tax-free contributions to qualifying charitable organizations.

-          Homeowners will be able to deduct mortgage insurance, just like they would mortgage interest, keeping more money in their pockets to spend in their communities.

-      Parents and students will be able to deduct qualifying higher education expenses, reducing the cost of college and continuing education.

Visitors at the Capitol

boganMichelle Bogan

hawkeyeHawkeye Community College

kenyonDr. James Kenyon, School Board President, Cedar Falls

Capitol Review 1-22-16

Smaller, Smarter Government

A new subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee began the task of reviewing the standing appropriations within the state’s budget.  The Budget Review Subcommittee, led by Rep. Ken Rizer, will help set the foundation for the Standing Appropriations bill that will be started in the House this year.

Unlike other line items in the state budget, there are a series of state appropriations that are established in either the Iowa Code or Iowa Constitution.  These appropriations are known as standing appropriations.  The largest standing appropriation - State Foundation School Aid - is reviewed every year as the Legislature sets the annual Supplemental State Aid figure for growth in school funding.  But most of the remaining standing appropriations continue to be funded every year without serious legislative review.

The Budget Review Subcommittee will spend the next few weeks reviewing many of the existing standing appropriations.  They will work to identify what each line item does, review its level of funding, and determine if any efficiencies or reforms can be implemented to improve that line item’s function. 

The review will begin with an examination of the Legislative budget.  Funding for the Legislature is set out in the Iowa Code, which grants the General Assembly a standing unlimited appropriation.  These funds are used to cover the costs of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the central non-partisan offices like the Legislative Services Agency and the State Ombudsman’s office.  Next week, the subcommittee will move on to look at local grant funding in the Department of Cultural Affairs and tourism funding under the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  On Wednesday, discussion will turn to child development funding distributed to local schools by the Department of Education and non-public school transportation funding.

Meetings for this subcommittee will be on Mondays and Wednesdays in room 102 at noon.  Representative Rizer is my roommate in Des Moines.  I look forward to being in constant contact and discussion with Representative Rizer on the information being presented in these subcommittee meetings.  

Ready, Set, CAUCUS!

Well folks, it’s that time again…Caucus time. Finally receiving all those mailers, emails, and phone calls can pay off!

When is the Caucus?

As you likely know, the Iowa Caucuses are on February 1, 2016 at 7 p.m. at your respective polling location.

Where is my polling place?

It is important to note that your Caucus location might be different than your typical polling place. To determine your Republican Caucus location, first know the precinct you reside in. If you are unsure of your precinct visit the Secretary of State’s website here. Once you know which precinct you belong to visit to see where your precinct meets for the Republican Caucus. If you have questions about the Caucus location or time you can contact the Republican Party of Iowa at (515) 282-8105. If you have questions about your precinct contact the Secretary of State at (515) 281-5204.

Am I eligible to participate in the Republican Caucus?

In order to be eligible to vote in the Republican Caucus one must be a registered Republican voter and at least 18 years of age by the General Election (November 8, 2016). Thus, you must be born on or before November 8th, 1998 in order to participate. “If you are not a registered Republican, you can contact your county auditor to register immediately, and will also have the option of same-day voter registration at the caucus location.”

If you plan to register to vote at the Caucus, it is important that you arrive early. When registering to vote at the Caucus you must have (1) proof of ID and (2) proof of residence. Acceptable forms of ID include: Iowa driver’s license, Iowa non-driver ID card, Out-of-state driver's license or non-driver ID card, U.S. passport, ID card issued by employer, U.S. military ID, or a student ID issued by Iowa high school or college. Acceptable forms of proof of residence include: a photo ID containing your current address, a residential lease, a utility bill, a bank statement, a pay check, or a government check.

If you have questions about registering to vote or acceptable documents you may contact the Secretary of State at (515) 281-5204.


PO Box 1142
Cedar Falls, IA 50613



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