- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An infrastructure bill passed Wednesday in the Iowa Legislature does not include designated funding for three state buildings with serious maintenance issues, and lawmakers involved in crafting the legislation say building maintenance needs to be prioritized.

The Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-majority House passed a nearly $100 million budget bill for the next fiscal year on a range of infrastructure projects. Most of the money comes from a fund that collects gambling tax money.

The legislation doesn’t include money for repairs at a law enforcement building, the state historical building or a facility near the Capitol that houses some agencies. Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said it shows the Legislature needs to refocus on maintenance of state buildings.

McCoy, co-chair of a special legislative committee that crafted the bill, said infrastructure funding in recent years has been directed toward buildings on public universities managed by the Iowa Board of Regents. He said if he oversees infrastructure funding again, “any future appropriations for regents is going to be zero until we address these critical buildings.”

McCoy proposed to borrow more than $100 million through bonding to address the three buildings. Branstad and House Republicans didn’t support it because they didn’t want to borrow money.

Rep. Dan Huseman, R-Aurelia and co-chair of the same committee, reiterated the need for maintenance funding ahead of the 85-13 House vote.

“How do we go about setting out a course to do things right and do things a lot better than we have in the last few years?” he said.

The legislation, which passed in the Senate on a 27-22 vote, doesn’t include specific money for a building that houses the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. It does have language that prioritizes the facility if dollars are available from about $9 million in major maintenance funding.

Academy officials reported black mold in the building in recent months. There were immediate repairs to address it, but state officials say it’s a temporary fix.

Judy Bradshaw, academy director, said she is working with state officials to propose a new regional training facility for several law enforcement agencies. She said she’ll need to assess how to spend any money that becomes available for the current building.

The bill also has no money for a building near the Capitol that houses some state agencies. Known as the Wallace Building, it has several maintenance issues.

There are also no dollars for the state historical building. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs requested $65 million over several years for a major building renovation. McCoy’s bonding plan would have addressed issues in the current building, including a leaky roof and ventilation problems.

Department spokesman Michael Morain said the agency is disappointed their initial renovation proposal, which had support from Branstad, wasn’t approved.

“We will take another look at our plans and see if there are alternative solutions,” he said.

The legislation now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad for his approval as the split Legislature tries to finish work on a nearly $7.35 billion state budget.

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