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New GOP budget would cut all state funding for Iowa Flood Center

The budget bill also includes cutting $1.5 million from the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa. The center studies flood prevention. (CBS2/FOX28)

The Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa would lose all state funding under the new GOP education budget proposal.

The center was formed in 2009 after the historic flood of 2008 in Cedar Rapids and it receives $1.5 million in state funding annually.

Larry Weber, who director of the IIHR - Hydroscience & Engineering division with the center, was at the statehouse Tuesday as lawmakers discussed the proposed education budget numbers.

Weber stressed the ongoing work the center has done, citing what its role was in the fall of 2016 as residents and city officials with Cedar Rapids were monitoring high waters in their area.

"We heard over and over again from community members that the difference between 2016 and 2008 was the information available through the Iowa Flood Center and online through the flood information system," Weber said.

Weber also said one area that would be in jeopardy is the center's work with the Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Grant.

"It's important the legislature continues to fund the Flood Center so we can deliver that $96 million plus that we promised for housing and urban development," he said. "We simply can't deliver that HUD grant if we don't have the Flood Center."

State Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R - Mount Ayr, told reporters "discussions are still ongoing."

"There are some members that feel that the majority of the funding was the result of the 2008 flood and a lot of that work should've been done," he told reporters. "Whether that requires the full $1.5 million to make sure that we continue the mapping and the other things they do with that system, whether that should require the full $1.5 million."

Dolecheck also said it was never anticipated when the legislature funded the center in 2009 it would be something lawmakers would "continually fund forever," adding the center has also worked with federal funding.

"We as Iowans need to be responsible for our taxpayer dollars," he said. "What do we need from the Flood Center at this point in time to help Iowans?"

Weber hopes lawmakers will listen and deliver funding to the center so it can continue its research and work.

"There's value in that momentum," he said. "There's value in that product. We want to continue serving the state."

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