Iowa General Assembly Spending Data for 2015

by Jennifer L. Crull

This is the eighth year in which Public Interest Institute has updated the citizens of Iowa about Iowa Vote Tally. Iowa Vote Tally is a modified version of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s Vote Tally. The purpose of Iowa Vote Tally is to let you know how Legislators voted to spend your tax dollars. Iowa Vote Tally looks at all appropriation bills that have fiscal impact tied to them. This includes funds from the General Fund, but does not include federal dollars or block grants. This year there were eight appropriation bills that the Iowa House and Senate voted on. These bills amounted to over $4.2 billion.

This information is being brought to you in an effort to increase the transparency concerning government spending. The Governor and Legislature have worked hard over the last several years to decrease the number of items funded through one-time funds. This helps create stability within our budgeting process and increases transparency.

The tables included in this publication show how your State Senator and State Representative voted concerning the spending of your taxpayer dollars. This session the Iowa House and Senate had to deal with various issues, such as now paying for the property tax relief and educational reform that they voted for two years ago. Both of those pieces of legislation require more General Fund dollars being spent to support them. We have to hope that next year our elected officials will tackle the monumental task of fixing Iowa’s pension system. This is an issue that our elected officials can’t continue to put off.

Since Iowa has split control of the Iowa House and Senate, the reports for each State Senator and State Representative can be a little misleading. Since the Republicans are in control of the House they routinely vote for all of the appropriation bills that the leaders put forth. So, a Democrat voting against a bill may mean that the funding is not adequate in their minds or they may object to a part of the legislation. Likewise the Democrats are in control of the Iowa Senate, and therefore most Democrats voted for the bills brought to a vote since their leadership brought them forward for a vote. Additionally, many of the Republicans voted against the proposed appropriation bills for many of the same reasons.

If you visit the www.IowaTransparency.org Website you will see the link to Iowa Vote Tally. On the Iowa Vote Tally page, you are able to see individual reports for each Legislator. The individual reports show how the Legislators voted and the fiscal impact of each bill. If a Legislator votes “No,” the spending is recorded as zero; otherwise, the spending, or the cost of the bill, is assigned to the Legislator. The individual reports show the legislation that the Legislator voted on. It is also important to note that there were several Legislators that missed numerous votes on the appropriation bills, but that may be due to the fact most of these votes took place the first week of June. The legislation that the Legislators were absent for is left off the report. These reports are a tool to start a discussion about what our elected officials are doing with the taxpayer’s money. Take the time to check out your State Senator and State Representative and see if their voting habits are what you want in Des Moines.

Total Spending by Members of Iowa Senate - 2015

Total Spending by Members of Iowa House - 2015

Jennifer L. Crull is an IT Specialist with Public Interest Institute.

IOWA TRANSPARENCY NEWSLETTER is a monthly newsletter reporting on government transparency in our state.

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