Iowa Legislature Still Working Overtime on Budget, Tax Cuts

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa still has no state budget, which has to be in place in less than two months.

Republicans control the state legislature, but are still trying to agree on items like money for state universities and the Department of Corrections.

They're also trying to agree on major tax cuts.

The House is now looking at a bill passed by the Senate that would speed up tax cuts approved in 2018 and change how the state funds mental health. The state would handle funding for mental health, removing the burden from property taxes.

The House and Senate must also settle differences in money for the Corrections Department and the state's three universities.

The House has proposed a $20 million increase for the Department of Corrections, while the Senate has offered a $6.2 million increase.

The House has also proposed no funding increase and a continued tuition freeze for Iowa’s public universities, while the Senate is calling for an $8.2 million increase, which would make up for cuts to the schools last year.

Further, Lawmakers are looking at a last-minute plan to delay unemployment claims by one week.

The state's $8 billion budget must be in place on July 1st when it goes into effect.

Other major legislation under consideration:

The Senate will likely consider a ban on vaccine passports that was introduced and passed by the House last week.

In addition, a proposal known as the "Back the Blue" bill passed the House last month with a several Democrats voting in favor of it.

The bill would give police officers greater protection against lawsuits filed against them, or qualified immunity. It would also stiffen criminal penalties for rioting, lifting the offense to a felony. And drivers who encounter protests would have more legal protection.

Lawmakers are also looking at a plan to require Iowa gas stations to sell E-15, gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend, by 2026.

The legislature was scheduled to adjourn last Friday, but now could be working into next week before finishing for the year.

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