Iowa kicks off 2018 legislative session - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

Iowa kicks off 2018 legislative session

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DES MOINES, Iowa (FOX 47) -

Iowa Republicans are expected to push an agenda lead by an effort to cut taxes despite a tight budget. 

"Don't take anything off the table," says Sen. Jason Schultz, (R) Schleswig, IA. "I know it's popular to say that K through 12 education is off the table. We have  Medicaid entitlements that we have, and we can't take that off the  table. That's three-quarters of our entire budget. I don't think it's fair to the other 25-percent, who've been held at the status quo, or who received cuts in previous years, that we only look to that 25 percent."

Schultz is reacting to the expected $37 million budget shortfall.

The shortfall amount is based on December's projection from the Revenue Estimating Conference. 

The REC will revise it's numbers in March, and some lawmakers want to wait until then to see if the shortfall narrows. 

Despite all that, most lawmakers do not want to cut education.

"I know that we can't touch education," said Rep. Tim Kacena, (D) Sioux City.

Rep. Chuck  Holz, (R) Le Mars, IA, says "After last years $130 million de-appropriation, it's going to make it a whole lot tougher because there's a lot of places that pretty well took out everything out of their budgets."

Once cuts are made, Republicans will likely lead the fight for tax reform. Recent federal tax reforms will mean an extra $106 million for Iowa in 2018.

"That money needs to go back to the Iowa taxpayer," said Rep. Steven  Holt, (R) Denison, IA.

Lawmakers will also try to find ways to fund education. Last session, lawmakers set allowable growth at 1.1 percent, which may  seem generous when allowable growth is set this year.

"I have a hard time seeing 1.1-percent," said Sen. Schultz.

Rep. Kacena says, "Most of your school districts will tell you they need between 2- percent and 4-percent just to stay even."

Governor Reynolds say the first bill she wants to sign is one improving water quality in Iowa.

Spirit Lake Representative John  Wills

Rep. John Wills, (R) Spirit Lake, IA, who heads the Okoboji Protective Association, says the bill  will be the first of many steps to improve Iowa's waterways.

"This is a generational issue. It's not something that's going to be solved today with one bill. It's going to take many years of effort and probably several bills and pieces of legislation to deal with."

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