DES MOINES, Iowa - Two Iowa Democratic State lawmakers are asking for more oversight after Governor Kim Reynolds' decision to send money back to the federal government.
Reynolds announced Thursday on Fox News that she had given back $95 million meant for student testing for COVID-19.
Senator Claire Celsi of West Des Moines and Representative Ruth Ann Gaines of Des Moines are calling for oversight committees to conduct meetings on the management of the federal money.
The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports the Republican oversight committee chairs are dismissing the meetings as unnecessary.
Representative Holly Brink, chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, told the Capital Dispatch that a meeting on Reynolds decision would be a “politically-motivated waste of time.”
Thursday, Reynolds said Iowa was one of the first states to get kids safely back in to classrooms fulltime in August, and the money for testing was not needed.
The the Iowa Department of Public Health released a letter minutes after Reynolds appearance on Fox News, saying the department would reconsider if the money could be used for something other than testing.
The letter signed by IDPH Director Kelly Garcia was dared April 23rd.
Below is the text of the letter from Senator Celsi and Representative Gaines:
Dear Senator Schultz and Representative Brink:
Greetings to you both and Happy Spring. It’ll be great to get out of the Capitol and enjoy the interim.
We’re writing today with concern over many issues, but with great urgency on one issue in particular. The billions of dollars sent to Iowa in the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan must be spent according to complicated and sometimes strict rules. We want to assure that the Reynolds Administration spend the money in accordance with the rules to the benefit of Iowans.
We were flabbergasted to discover that Governor Reynolds sent $95 million in COVID-19 testing funding back to the U.S. Federal Government instead of giving schools the option to use it for COVID-19 testing protocols in their districts.
It is our collective responsibility to monitor the disbursement of these funds to ensure it is being used for its intended purpose. Iowans deserve to know where the money is going and what it is being used for. At the end of the statutory spending period, they also deserve to know how much (if any) was leftover and how much should be sent back.
We’re calling on both of you to convene Government Oversight meetings in the House and Senate so committee members can discuss protocols for conducting oversight on this Federal funding stream. We are all accountable to the taxpayers and voters in Iowa and we should be very concerned about managing it.
Please call or email us as soon as possible to discuss timing of this proposed meeting. We would also be open to meeting jointly as the issue equally concerns both bodies.
Claire Celsi Ruth Ann Gaines
State Senator State Representative