The legislature’s top leaders and a 10-member panel of House and Senate members have struck a deal that would pay the state’s overdue legal bills and enact two tax proposals — one sought by Republicans, the other by Democrats.
The plan would provide $45.7 million for state programs which have run out of money before the end of the budgeting year on June 30. It would mean an end to the weeks-long battle over paying lawyers and others who work on cases for clients who can’t afford their own lawyer and have one appointed to represent them. Paying those past-due legal bills had been tied to a partisan fight over taxes.
Leaders in the two parties now have agreed to advance an idea Democrats sought which would increase the earned income tax credit for Iowans who make $45,000 or less annually. And, the Republican proposal to create a Taxpayers Relief Fund is also part of this deal. It means if the state has unspent money at the end of the budgeting year, up to $60 million of that would be put in the fund and returned to taxpayers.
The package also provides more money for prisons, community colleges, the state patrol, and the four state Mental Health Institutes. Leaders expect this package of new spending and new tax policies to win approval in the Iowa House and Senate on Monday.