Former Lawmaker Schulte Will be Mental Health Contractor

By Erin Jordan, Reporter

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By Liz Blood

DES MOINES, Iowa - An ousted state representative who helped draft a massive reform to the state’s mental health system will now make $1,900 a week as a contractor for the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Renee Schulte, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, was defeated by Democrat Art Staed in November.

Schulte’s six-month contract with DHS was made public Friday after an Open Records request by The Gazette. The $1,900-a-week pay includes travel and office expenses. There is an option to renew for another six months.

Schulte, a mental health therapist, spent two years leading the state’s effort to redesign Iowa county-based mental health system into a statewide effort in which services are administered regionally and delivered locally.

The law calls for counties to maintain property tax levies, which generate about $125 million annually for mental-health services. Every county would levy the equivalent of $47.28 per person in property taxes for mental health services. Some counties levy less than that, so the bill calls for the state to spend $18 million to "buy out" those counties. Counties levying more than $47.28 could maintain their current levy or lower their property tax asking.

Schulte would not be allowed to lobby the Iowa Legislature for two years after leaving the House of Representatives.

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