ROADS/BRIDGES: Iowa House members omit big number in FY 2017 budget

April 22, 2016

DOT’s request for $10 million to cover salaries not included; Senate expected to provide fix

Does the Iowa Department of Transportation want to get paid, or does it need to get paid? Believe it or not, there is a big difference.

The House of Representatives approved its budget for FY 2017, and it came in $9.7 million less than what Iowa DOT believes it needs to maintain current staffing levels. According to Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa DOT, the agency is low on personnel power. In fact, Trombino says it’s at the lowest point ever, and the workload continues to increase. The additional $9.7 million is needed to maintain the current staff level, and if the DOT does not get it core services, like winter maintenance and construction, will suffer cuts.

Rep. Daniel Huseman, however, views the $9.7 million as a pay raise, which is out of the question after the state legislature passed a 10-cent increase in the gas tax.

“This is a tough budget year, so we felt it was not appropriate to raise the gas tax and then come back to the governor to ask for a $10 million pay raise,” said Huseman. “That has a lot of our members concerned, and that is why we didn’t put it in our appropriation bill.”

Trombino countered by saying the DOT was required to apply the tax increase towards road and bridge projects, not salaries.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad believes the DOT should receive the additional $9.7 million, and most expect the Democratic-controlled state Senate to revise the number in their budget version.