DES MOINES (AP) — The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate approved about $3 billion of its state budget plan Thursday, approving budgets for higher education and the State Health and Human Services Department.
Both bills passed out of the Senate on party-line votes, 26 to 22. Two Republicans were absent.
In education spending, the Senate-backed budget spends $964 million on Iowa’s state universities, institutions for the blind and deaf and some of the money for Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposed K-12 education reforms.
Earlier, the House approved an $895 million budget for those programs.
The Senate plan makes $10 million available for student financial aid, known as a tuition set-aside; that’s less than the $39 million the Iowa Board of Regents requested in exchange for freezing in-state undergraduate tuition. The House hasn’t accounted for any of the aid.
The Senate also makes $12 million available to fund a program for early childhood literacy assessments in the state.
At the request of Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, the budget was amended Thursday to direct $210,000 toward creating 10 English language learning centers for legal refugees in the state.
The health and human services budget creates a $1.9 billion budget for the Departments of Health, Human Services and Public Health.
The Senate version gives new money to youth programs, such as $3.3 million for a new autism treatment program and $4 million for tobacco prevention.
The Senate budget also revives a suicide prevention program that died in the House as a stand-alone bill earlier in the session. It would require that teachers undergo suicide prevention training as part of their license renewal.
The House hasn’t yet approved a health and human services budget.
Democrats rejected an amendment by Republican Sen. Amy Sinclair of Allerton that would have outlawed abortions funded through Medicaid in cases of rape, incest or fetal deformity. It would have allowed abortions to protect the mother’s life.
Democrats narrowly defeated her proposal 24-23, with Democrat Sen. Joe Seng of Davenport joining Republicans.
Her amendment would also have effectively done away with any federal or state dollars for women’s health and family planning centers such as Planned Parenthood.
“Just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you can’t have the same services as other women,” said Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, the budget bill sponsor.
Under current law, Medicaid can cover abortions in rare cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity and to protect a mother’s life.
The Department of Human Services reported 22 abortions funded by Medicaid dollars in the past fiscal year. In the current fiscal year, seven have been performed due to fetal deformity.
Both of budget bills will likely go to joint committees made up of lawmakers from both parties and both chambers to try and work out compromises.
GOP lawmakers say they are prepared to fight against Medicaid-funded abortions in the joint committee.