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Iowa House, Senate Republicans have different budget targets

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(The Center Square) – The Iowa House and Senate Republicans have different budget targets for fiscal year 2025.

House Republicans set their target at $8.955 billion, up $402.8 million from fiscal year 2024, or 4.71%. Senate Republicans have a lower goal of $8.872 billion, a 3.74% increase over the previous year.

Part of the difference is in new K-12 education spending. The House plan is an increase of $232 million, the most of any category. The next highest funding increase is for health and human services at $92.4 million.

The Senate is upping education spending by $223.2 million

Both proposed budgets include more funding for teacher salaries.

Lawmakers approved a bill earlier in the week that bumps minimum teacher pay to $50,000 over the next two years, making the starting salaries the fifth highest in the U.S. The bill gradually increases the pay for teachers with 12 years of experience to a minimum of $62,000 annually and also sets aside $14 million to increase paraprofessionals’ pay.

“Next year’s budget is projected to have an ongoing surplus of more than a billion of dollars, the Taxpayer Relief Fund balance is expected to be about $3.8 billion, and tax rates will continue to decline,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver. “Iowa is in great fiscal shape and the economy is strong despite the headwinds of the Biden economy. I am optimistic we can do more for the taxpayer before this legislature adjourns.”

House Speaker Chuck Grassley praised the proposed budget from his chamber.

“Here in Iowa, we have solidified the expectations for responsible budgeting principles and follow through year after year,” Grassley said in his weekly newsletter. “And our hard work has once again put us in a place to further relieve the tax burden on Iowans.”

The House also passed a proposed resolution for a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for any tax increase. The vote would have to be approved again next year before it could appear on a ballot.

“We heard claims on the House floor that this bill would be detrimental to Iowa’s future,” Grassley said. “However, this policy of a requiring 2/3 majority to raise taxes is not unheard of. At least 16 other states have a similar or more restrictive policy, many of which are blue states.”

The resolution now goes to the Senate for a vote.

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