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Iowa lawmakers approve $20 million budget boost for Department of Corrections

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 7:34 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Senate Republicans approved a $20 million budget increase for the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Democrats have called for more funding following the deaths of two workers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Two inmates are charged with killing Lorena Schulte and Robert McFarland in March.

Investigators say they killed the nurse and the correctional officer while trying to escape.

Democrats advocated for a $35 million budget increase for the department, but Republicans say the approved increase is already a big step forward.

“It’s a step forward,” Sen. Brad Zaun said. “I would love to put more money in mental health. I’d love to put more money in our corrections system, but right now this is what we could afford.”

The approved $20 million increase is the biggest budget boost the Department of Corrections has seen in years.

But AFSCME President Danny Homan says it is not enough to fix what he calls a systemic problem.

“We have been short budgeted every year for 10 years,” AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan said. “It is now caught up to this department. They can’t do it. They are in dire need.”

Democrats introduced an amendment to make extended health care coverage for families of prison staff killed on the job a state policy.

The Iowa House passed the amendment in a unanimous vote.

The amendment awaits approval from the Iowa Senate.

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