Senate moves to reduce government regulations
When I was elected to the Iowa Senate, I was often asked what legislation I wanted to introduce. My goal has always been not to add to government regulations, but instead reduce needless regulations on Iowans, prospective Iowans, and Iowa small businesses. The Senate passed three bills last week all addressing this issue.
SF 455 provided relief on over-regulation of storm water by local governments. This issue rarely makes the news or is high profile, but it is another in a long line of regulations at every level of government making the cost of living too high. SF 455 simply says local governments cannot regulate topsoil beyond the standards set by the DNR.
This language provides clarity for small businesses working to build affordable housing and avoids the added costs inherent in excessive regulation.
Another regulation reduction undertaken last week was the elimination of the requirement for tattoo artists to have a high school diploma or GED. Iowa was one of just four states to regulate tattoo artists this way and a high school diploma was not relevant to their ability to pass the necessary training. SF 219 would eliminate that requirement if passed by the House and signed by the governor.
Finally, a common theme this year is the need for health care providers all across Iowa. International doctors in countries with well-developed health care educational systems will find fewer hurdles to employment and licensing in Iowa with the passage of SF 477. This bill removes requirements for doctors in a handful of countries like, Ireland, Israel, and New Zealand to practice in Iowa without repetitive and duplicative training delaying their ability to work here.
Education continues to be a focus in the Senate. Senate File 251 expands the definition of administrative costs within the Iowa code. Currently, code states administrative expenditures must not exceed 5 percent of a district’s general fund. The bill defines administrative expenditures as those which do not relate directly to students and their instruction. This definition includes salaries for administrators and office staff, school administration, general administration, and data processing and collection services. The bill exempts schools with less than 1,000 students so we are not inhibiting schools that rely on sharing agreements or rural and small schools from being able to provide essential services.
The goal with this legislation is to ensure the billions of dollars spent on K-12 education in Iowa is thoughtfully spent with a focus on getting more money into the classroom for instruction and teacher salaries rather than growing administration. In Iowa, the number of students has increased 9 percent, and teachers have increased 25 percent between FY 1993 and FY 2021. At the same time the increase in all other school district staff was 60 percent. Administrative staffing and costs are rising at a rate far above the increase of students and teachers.
On average, roughly only a third of the money schools spend is spent in the classroom. While administration, facilities, and other services are necessary, we want to ensure money is first and foremost going to teachers and classrooms for the instruction of students.
release budget target
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and I as Senate Appropriations Committee chair released the overall budget target by Senate Republicans for FY 2024. Senate Republicans plan to spend $8.486 billion in FY 2024.
“This budget target ensures the tax cuts implemented last year are sustainable,” said Sen. Whitver. “Iowa has increased funding for K-12 schools every year, it has an ongoing surplus, and income taxes are falling every year for Iowans, including the elimination of the tax on retirement income this year.
“Our tax reforms are working,” continued Whitver. “Revenue estimates showed Iowa continues to be in the strongest fiscal position the state has ever been. That fiscal strength creates opportunities for more tax relief in future years.”
The target is the same amount Gov. Kim Reynolds released in her budget earlier this year.
It represents a 3.3 percent increase in state spending.
Over the coming weeks, Senate Appropriations subcommittees will work to develop budgets to fund priorities in state government and meet the target of $8.486 billion.
State Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, represents Calhoun, Pocahontas, Sac and Webster counties.