March 22, 2019
Assistance Available for Iowans Impacted by Severe Flooding
Assistance Available for Iowans Impacted by Severe Flooding
Assistance is now available to Iowans who are impacted by severe flooding. Last week, the Governor issued a disaster proclamation for numerous counties across Iowa and also activated Iowa’s State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate flood emergency response.
The proclamation allows state resources to be utilized for response recovery and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with Disaster Case Management Program for 41 counties, including: Adair, Bremer, Buena Vista, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clay, Clayton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Franklin, Fremont, Guthrie, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Kossuth, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, O’Brien, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pottawattamie, Shelby, Sioux, Tama, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, Worth, and Wright.
Individual Assistance Grants
The Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants up to $5,000 for household incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level or a maximum annual income of $41,560 for household of three. These grants are available for home or car repairs, clothing or food and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery.
The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) website and potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim. The link to the application can be found here: https://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
Disaster Case Management
The Disaster Case Management is a program designed to provide assistance for a disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with individuals to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program and it closes 180 days from the Governor’s proclamation date. The Disaster Case Management Program is administered through local community action associations, which Pottawattamie’s local agency contact information can be found here: http://iowacommunityaction.org/agencies/west-central-community-action.
Extension on Income Taxes
The Iowa Department of Revenue has granted a 30-day extension and suspension of any penalty or interest for taxpayers whose principal residence or business is located in a disaster area and whose payment or return is due on or before March 31 as a response to the Governor’s disaster declaration.
Lifesaving Emergency Insulin Bill Passes the House
A bill designed to allow patients to receive a 30-day emergency insulin supply with an expired prescription has passed the House. The bill also includes lifesaving medications like Epi-Pens and rescue inhalers.
House File 700, is intended to prevent situations when a patient is unable to receive medications because they can’t reach their doctor and they have an expired prescription. Lifesaving medication like insulin needs to be taken every day at regular intervals. Any deviation from this routine could be fatal to the patient.
HF 700 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Projections Show Iowa’s Revenue Remains Stagnant
Citing dropping land values, slow wage growth, and leading indicators of Iowa’s economy moving in the wrong direction, Iowa budget experts have lowered revenue growth projections for the next fiscal year. The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met to update their revenue projections for the current and upcoming fiscal years. The REC meets at least three times a year to project revenue estimates that guide the Legislature on their budgets targets.
The estimate for FY 2019 continues to project 4.7% growth in revenue, the same as the December estimate. The estimate is $349.7 million over the final FY 2018 numbers. This results in $7.733 billion in total revenue.
The REC also issued an estimate for FY 2020, with a projection of $7.868 billion, or 1.5% growth. This is only $114.8 million in growth from the FY 2019. This is actually a decrease from the projection of 1.8% growth estimate from December.
While REC is projecting a FY 2020 growth of 1.5% from FY 2019, the total amount of projected revenue actually decreased from the December estimate by $20 million.
The REC expressed specific concerns about land values dropping 2.7% in the state and the future leading indicators appear to be heading in the wrong direction. There continues to be a concern for a shortage in skilled workforce and slow to nonexistent wage growth as compared to the rest of the country.
Reserve Memorial Day State Park Camping
Reservations for Memorial Day weekend camping in state parks are now open. Campsites in state parks can be reserved up to three months in advance.
This year 75% of campsites can be reserved online and 25% can be reserved at the park on a first-come first-serve basis. Campsites range in price from $9 per night for primitive sites to $16 per night for electric sites. For more information on state park camping and to make a reservation, visit https://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Camping.
New Student Assessment Implementation Begins
A new student assessment, the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP), is currently being implemented in Iowa schools. The new ISASP replaces the Iowa Test of Basic Skills given in early grades and the Iowa Test of Education Development given in higher grades. The Education Committee was very interested in getting an update on its implementation. So far, they were told, no glitches with the ISASP offered by computers.
Iowa’s new test is unique, not only in that it matches and is structured to Iowa education standards that are taught in Iowa classrooms, but also because it has the option of a school giving the test by computer or paper. In Iowa this month there has been 865,000 tests (75%) by computer in 185 of Iowa’s 330 school districts. It also so far has had 292,000 tests provided on paper in 59 school districts.
The ISASP was developed by the University of Iowa and the Iowa Testing programs. Pearson Education out of Cedar Rapids has helped administer, report the scores, and support communication with Iowa schools for the test. Other states that have used other companies to implement their developed test have seen glitches that have stopped the computer test mid test taking, but it has not occurred in Iowa.
February Snowiest Month Ever on Record
The cold and snow in the month of February were some of the most extreme ever recorded in the state. The average statewide snowfall for the month was 22.6 inches, making this February the snowiest ever on record. Swea City in Kossuth County received the most snow in the state, at over 41 inches in one month.
Statewide temperatures averaged 15.6 degrees. That is over 8 degrees below normal. This makes this February the 16th coldest in 147 years of state records.
Soil moisture across the state is high. Frost remains in the ground across much of the state. According to Tim Hall, DNR’s coordinator of hydrology resources, “The heavy snow pack and recent rainfall have combined with saturated soils to bring widespread flooding to the state. As a result, this is the first spring in the last three years that has started with no drought in Iowa.”
Additional information on Iowa’s water resources and trends can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.