The Rozenboom Report – January 26, 2018

by Ken Rozenboom

In this newsletter I’m pleased to announce that a significant piece of legislation, Senate File 512, passed the Iowa House this week, and was sent down to the governor’s office for her signature. The 2012 introduction of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy is the driving force behind SF512. This nutrient reduction plan calls for the state of Iowa to reduce the flow of nitrogen and phosphorus into our rivers and streams, thereby reducing the impact that the upper Midwest has on the Hypoxia Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. SF512 provides policy directives and substantial new funding to achieve the goals of the NRS.

The state of Iowa has a long history of creating partnerships with local governments, industry and agriculture to protect our natural resources. This legislation provides additional funding for both point source pollution (municipalities and industry), and non-point source pollution (natural and agricultural), both key components of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Increasingly stringent requirements from the EPA are putting tremendous pressure on our cities and towns to lower the nutrient outflow from wastewater systems. Over the next 12 years SF512 will provide an additional $126 million to the already existing State Revolving Loan which helps our cities and towns with drinking water and wastewater projects, with priority given to disadvantaged communities.

With respect to agriculture, Iowa’s combination of nutrient rich soil coupled with abundant rainfall makes our state one of the most productive places on the planet, but that also means that nutrient run-off must be managed. For many years the state has partnered with agriculture by way of cost share programs to help protect our resources and our environment. The result has been that soil run-off and phosphorus loss have been greatly reduced. More recently we’ve learned how to use scientifically proven practices and build structures to significantly reduce nitrate runoff into our waters.

According to a recent Iowa State study, Iowa farmers have spent more than $2 billion of their own money on conservation practices over the last ten years. Over the next 12 years SF512 provides $156 million for additional cost share partnerships with Iowa farmers. This legislation sunsets in 2030, leaving it to future legislatures to carry on from there.

This year revenue estimates indicate revenue will fall $35 million below the spending levels planned by the legislature last year. This estimate is approximately $127 million less than was estimated in March of last year. As a result, this week the Senate began to move a bill to reduce state spending in the current fiscal year. In an effort to avoid requiring multiple cuts to this year’s budget the Senate bill aims to reduce current year spending by approximately $50 million.

Reductions to state appropriations in the middle of a fiscal year are always challenging and this year is no exception. These reductions kept our promise to K-12 education, while making targeted reductions in an effort to make the best use of each taxpayer dollar. However, I do have deep concerns about some of the proposed cuts, and look forward to continued negotiations with the House and the Governor.

In periods of slow revenue growth, budgeting is always a challenge. We simply cannot spend more money than we have and have a duty to budget responsibly. Senate Republicans are committed to treating the state budget like the family budget and are dedicated to policies that encourage economic growth.

Those of us who serve in the legislature try our best to represent our constituents. One of the ways to communicate your views is to join us at one of our upcoming forums. We will be at Smokey Row in Oskaloosa this Saturday morning, January 27, from 8:30 to 9:30. And next Saturday, February 3, we will be at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa from 9:30 to 11:30.

 

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Posted by on Jan 27 2018. Filed under Local News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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