$1 million for food banks included in bill to pay off state debts

Lawmakers at the statehouse are rushing though a slew of bills to try to wrap up the work of the 2013 legislative session today.

A bill that just cleared the Iowa House sets aside money in the state surplus to pay off debts, like the bonds that financed construction of the Honey Creek “destination” park in southern Iowa and expansion of Iowa Women’s Prison in Mitchellville. Legislators of both parties touted the plan.

“This is the fiscally responsible thing to do,” said Representative Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars.

Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, said the proposal also plugs in enough money bolster the solvency of some key pension funds for public employees.

“All of these are investments and the right thing to do,” Running-Marquardt said.

But a host of other projects and private groups get financing from this legislation. The Iowa Special Olympics organization gets a quarter of a million.

Food pantries and food banks will get $1 million. The three state universities get a good chunk, too, with $10 million for the University of Northern Iowa’s general operating budget, $12 million for Iowa State Universities research park and $4 million for upgrades at the School of Pharmacy and the State Hygenics Lab at the University of Iowa.

There’s even money set aside to install a “lightning protection system” in the state capitol.