The 2009 Legislative session came to a close as the final details of the state budget were adopted. The state approved a general fund budget that spends $5.768 billion for fiscal year 2010. The general fund budget is moneys that generally comes from taxpayers in the form of sales taxes, income taxes, corporate taxes, and other taxes.

The Legislature trimmed the state budget by 6 percent, downsizing from the budget approved one year ago by $365 million. Next year’s general fund budget is below fiscal year 2008’s budget, which was July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008.

The fiscal year 2010 general fund budget has a $99 million ending balance that will add to the $441 million in reserves, should the economic downturn continue. Legislators took the steps that were necessary to bring spending down and balance the budget without a tax increase. The economic downturn is taking a toll on Iowa’s economy and many Iowans are getting by with less.

Legislators took bold steps that focused on three key priorities: creating jobs, rebuilding Iowa’s disaster affected areas, and expanding health care coverage to more of Iowa’s uninsured children.

Disaster assistance

The state committed nearly $450 million to rebuilding to Iowa’s flood and tornado damaged communities. These funds will help provide housing relief, match FEMA assistance and help cities and counties meet their disaster related needs. A portion of these funds will go for long-term infrastructure repairs and efforts to prevent future flooding through mitigation and watershed planning.

IJOBS program

One of the bold steps taken by the Legislature was to create its own $830 million stimulus effort to create jobs and help rebuild disaster affected communities. When combined with federal stimulus funds, it will also create jobs that will provide the spark Iowa’s economy needs. Improving Iowa’s infrastructure is always a good long-term investment.

Federal stimulus funding

The state of Iowa is anticipated to receive over $2.5 billion over the next two years from the federal government to create and maintain jobs. A portion of these funds will flow through existing state programs to lessen the impact of budget reductions on education and public safety.

Swine flu

Iowa Public Health officials continue to educate the public on way to protect people from contracting the novel influenza (H1N1).

Though it seems that the intensity is decreasing, precautions still should be taken.

The novel flu virus is a unique combination of swine and human flu viruses. This virus is transmitted from person to person, not from pigs to humans. None of the current cases had exposure to swine.

Symptoms

The symptoms of novel flu are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting along with respiratory symptoms. Like seasonal flu, novel flu may be more severe in those who have chronic medical conditions.

The current novel influenza virus spreads the same way as seasonal flu. Flu viruses are spread by an ill person coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people can become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Prevention

People should take the following steps to prevent contracting the flu:

• Avoid contact with ill persons.

• When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or into your elbow. Throw used tissues in a trash can.

• After you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcoholbased hand gel.

• If you are ill, stay away from other people by staying home. Do not go to work, school, or travel while ill.

• If you have visited areas where novel flu cases have been confirmed and develop flu like symptoms within seven days after your return, it is important to contact your health care provider and be tested. Visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu for the current list of areas with novel flu.

People with novel flu are potentially contagious as long as they have symptoms and possibly for up to seven days after they become ill. Children, especially younger children, might be contagious for longer than seven days.

A state hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about the H1N1 flu at 1-800-447-1985.

More information about the H1N1 flu can be found at www.idph.state.ia.us/h1n1/default.asp.Zeke Furlong|G:\CaucusStaff\ZFurlong\2009\Word\Newsletter\5-5 H1N1flu.doc.



Maquoketa Democrat Tom Schueller is serving in the Iowa House of Representatives. He represents District 25, which covers all of Jackson County and part of Clinton and Dubuque counties.

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