The Iowa House has given final legislative approval to a state government reorganization plan.
It gets rid of some state boards and commissions, calls for consolidation of computer systems and outlines other cost-cutting measures. It would save an estimated $126 million, a figure Republican Representative Chris Rants of Sioux City ridiculed.
“That’s the sum total of the efforts to reorganize a $6 billion operation,” Rants said. “…Pat yourselves on the back. Say, ‘we’ve done a great job reorganizing state government.’ You all will be here to sort it out next year, I’m actually glad for the first time I won’t be. I’ll be a no vote.”
Rants, who ended his campaign for governor in late February and will not seek reelection to the legislature, was the only “no” vote. The bill passed with 97 “yes” votes. According to Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, when you add all the budget-cutting ideas that have been endorsed by the legislature and the governor so far, it surpasses a quarter of a billion.
“Representative Rants, (it’s) $272 million when we combine all of our efforts,” Mascher said. “,,,So don’t discount that. That’s significant.”
Reprsentative Doug Struyk, a Republican from Council Bluffs, called the bill a compromise that was worth supporting. “Yes, this bill could have gone further, should have gone further,” Struyk said. “However, I do not share some of the pessimism in that this will be the only attempt at reforming state government or making budget cuts.” Struyk argues the budget reality will force lawmakers to pare even more from the state budget draft they’re developing for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
One controversial proposal which had been included in previous versions of the state government reorganization bill was removed. It called for closing the state Mental Health Institute in Clarinda, but the House voted to take that out of the bill two weeks ago and the Senate agreed to do so last week.
The final version of the government reorganization bill now goes to Governor Culver, who is expected to sign it into law.