Lawmakers of both parties are expressing concerns about staffing levels in state public safety agencies, but Republicans on a House committee have approved what they’re calling “status quo” funding for Iowa’s justice system which covers the highway patrol, prisons and the state crime lab.
Representative Gary Worthan, a Republican from Storm Lake, said there’s no extra money to hire more troopers or crime scene investigators.
“Not to try and gloss it over or anything, this is kind of holding our own in the Department of Public Safety,” Worthan said. “We’re not going to be able to increase numbers.”
In most cases, the agencies would receive about as much money as was planned for the current year, before a round of budget cuts last month. Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, said the state prisons, in particular, are understaffed.
“It’s endangering some of our state workers,” Hall said. “It’s endangering our taxpayers and families across the state.”
The House GOP’s overall state budget plan is drafted around a tax cut of $100 million. Republicans in the Senate have proposed significantly deeper tax cuts.
(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell)