Week five of the session has been hectic as we have had both committee work and floor debate. Next week is the first funnel, so sub-committees and standing committees are pushing bills forward in order to beat the deadline and threat of elimination for the session. As I mentioned, it can be hectic, but good committee produces the best legislation in the end.
Both the House and the Senate have debated and passed legislation regarding K-12 education funding. The House version appropriates an estimated $108 million, while the Senate is at about $91 million. These numbers include funding for transportation costs. The House number is very close to the Governor’s proposal, so it will be up to negotiators to narrow the differences and come up with a compromise. Personally, I would prefer the higher number because I believe the state budget can handle that much of an increase this year. That is not always the case. We also need to remember that schools need to do budgets as well, so settling this in a timely manner is imperative.
The House and Senate also passed a supplemental appropriation bill this week, with approximately $21.3 million going to the Department of Human Services and the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department. $333,000.00 will go to the Glenwood Resource Center and $21 million will be used to repair levees that were damaged last spring and summer. Some of the funds will be used to assist struggling communities. The Flood Mitigation Board has identified $165 million worth of projects, so as you can see, we have a long way to go.
This $21 million is for immediate relief as identified by the Mitigation Board. I have heard reports from some of my fellow lawmakers from Southwest Iowa that say if these levees are not repaired by Spring, flooding will be worse than last year. We know the water table is high, there has been a lot of snow up north and water releases from Gavins Point Dam are three times the normal rates. This is just on the Western part of the State. The Mississippi River is projected to flood again this Spring, so the slow melting of the snow right now is welcome.
Several years ago, when I was chairing the Infrastructure Budget Committee, we were informed that the central dome of the Capitol was in deteriorating condition, mainly due to moisture problems, both inside and out. We appropriated about $10 million to repair the dome, and actually came in under budget. The main dome was completed in 2018.
Now we have learned that the four smaller domes-one on each corner-are experiencing major problems as well. The Iowa Capitol is unique as it is the only one in the country with five domes. I am running out of space, so I will just mention for now that it will cost over $12 million to repair the four domes. This is something we must do now.
There has been much discussion about whether or not the Chinese government has been honest with the rest of the world when it comes to the Coronavirus as it spreads throughout the world. My guess is that the Chinese are covering up as much as they can, which is what they usually do. Something that troubles