AFSCME Iowa Council 61 - Every Day. Everywhere. Making Iowa Better.

Legislative Update - April 24, 2015

Budget Update
Iowa Senate Democrats and Iowa House Republicans have each released their budget targets. Iowa Senate Democrats proposed spending $7.341 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. This number is the same as the Governor’s budget; however, funds are allocated differently than in the Governor’s budget proposal.

Iowa House Republicans have proposed spending $7.175 billion in their proposal. This extremely low budget will hurt many services that Iowans rely on. Senate Appropriations Chair Senator Bob Dvorsky said that the Iowa House Republicans’ proposal “would be a devastating blow to Iowa’s families.”

Four AFSCME Members Testify on Mental Health Institutes
On Wednesday, State Senator Rob Hogg held a Senate Government Oversight Committee meeting about Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes. Four AFSCME members testified at the committee meeting: Sue Rehwaldt Hays, Ann Davison, Anna Short, and Cindy Fedler.

The witnesses noted that the facilities have been renovated many times and dismissed the incorrect characterization that the facilities are antiquated. All four spoke about how the mental health institutes provide much needed services.

Anna Short, a drug abuse counselor who has been laid off from Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute, said “there will always be a need” for the care these two facilities provide.

Sue Rehwaldt Hays, an occupational therapist at Clarinda Mental Health Institute, spoke about how the closures would hurt those who had been receiving treatment because “they are being disrupted and told they have to move.”

Ann Davison, a nurse clinician at Clarinda Mental Health Institute, spoke of the excellent work done by all the staff and said “we take our jobs very, very seriously.”

Cindy Fedler, a nurse clinician who has been laid off from Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute, pointed out the larger picture by saying “we have a mental health crisis in Iowa right now,” even before the closure of these facilities further limits mental health services

A former patient also testified before the committee. She said that she “wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that place [Clarinda Mental Health Institute].”

Education Budget
Iowa House Republicans and Iowa Senate Democrats remain deadlocked on the issue of education funding with Iowa House Republicans sticking to a funding proposal that would dramatically underfund Iowa schools.

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