Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed a crowd of nearly 300 people at the Tax Day Luncheon hosted by Iowans for Tax Relief and NFIB on Tuesday.
Chris Ingstad, President of Iowans for Tax Relief, said what is good for the taxpayer is generally good for small businesses, and the reverse is true as well. He credited leaders who allow individuals the opportunity to make their own choices.
“They rely on the choices of Iowans instead of relying on government mandates and control,” Ingstad said.
Reynolds opened by pledging to protect “each and every one of your freedoms.” She also credited the Republican legislators for what they’ve accomplished the last several years.
“We are doing big and bold things in the state of Iowa,” she said. “We continue to move forward. We don’t run on what we’ve done, we run on what we’re doing next.”
She also praised the efforts of Iowans for Tax Relief and NFIB.
“Honestly, with the help of both of these associations, we have come a long way in five years and it’s exciting,” she said.
Reynolds rattled off a number of accomplishments — passing the largest state income tax cut in state history, enacting an additional $400 million tax cut that phases out the inheritance tax, eliminating the mental health property tax levy, investing in K-12 education, broadband, mental health, housing, childcare.
“Even after storms and droughts and a worldwide pandemic, we ended fiscal year 21 with a $1.24 billion surplus and nearly $1 billion in cash reserves,” she said. “How did we get there? You know, we stuck to conservative budgeting practices.”
She also credited Iowa’s diverse economy, addressing regulations and resisting pressure from “politicized science” to keep the economy open, kids in school and push back on mandates.
“Above all, we trusted Iowans,” she said. “They didn’t let us down. They come through every time. I could not be more hopeful and optimistic about Iowa’s future.”
Reynolds said with the strong economy and a budget in the black, there’s never been a better time for “bold, yet sustainable” tax reform.
She expressed confidence at getting tax reform done this legislative session, noting each chamber of the legislature, as well as her office, has proposed plans to reform Iowa’s tax code.
Reynolds discussed leading the state through the COVID pandemic. She said one of the most important things was having a good team behind her.
“I am blessed to have an incredible, incredible team,” she said. “The first thing you should do as a leader is make sure that you surround yourself with the best and the brightest.”
Using data from Iowa rather than national data was key to guiding the state through COVID, she added.
“Instead of nationalizing it, we looked internally. We kept our schools open. Our kids played softball and baseball. We had great data that showed we could do it safely and responsibly,” she said.
Her decision to secure a contract with a private vendor to make available 750,000 tests was crucial as well, she said.
Finally, keeping the food supply chain open was instrumental as well. It all adds up to Iowa being recognized as the top state for the fastest recovery from COVID.