Representative Steve Holt (R-Denison) provided an update last week about the priorities and possibilities for the 2020 legislative session. On Dec. 19, Iowa House Republicans met to caucus and talk about plans for the 2020 session.
“We’re in good shape budget-wise,” Holt said. “Thanks to sound Republican budget principles.”
In the past few sessions, Holt said the House has worked to address the worker shortage in Iowa, the housing shortage for the workforce and broadband connectivity issues.
Holt said this year will likely feature plenty of conversation about IWILL. IWILL is Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy. In 2010, voters passed a constitutional amendment that the next time the sales tax in Iowa is raised, 3/8 of a penny will go to IWILL to fund a recreation trust fund and water quality.
The formula, though, likely needs to be tweaked, Holt said. It emphasizes trails and recreation too much and isn’t heavy enough on water quality.
There are options.
First, the legislature can do nothing and not raise the sales tax.
Second, they can raise the sales tax 3/8 of a penny to fund IWILL after tweaking the formula.
Third, they could raise the sales tax a penny and “just create a bunch of new government programs.”
They could raise the sales tax a penny and use the remaining 5/8 of a penny to cut property taxes by moving mental health funding from property taxes to that 5/8 of a penny from sales tax. Or they could use the 5/8 of a penny to cut income taxes.
“I have some concerns here,” Holt said. “I am a smaller, smarter government individual. I did some looking at statistics and in the five years I’ve been in the state House, government has grown by $600 million.”
He said Republicans spend responsibly. State law allows Iowa to spend up to 99 percent of the revenue it takes in, however, Republicans try to spend about 96-97 percent in case revenue estimates are off, as they were a few years ago.
“The only way I’m going to support it, I’ll tell you right now, is if it’s revenue-neutral or actually cuts taxes,” he said. “I would love to hear your thoughts on that.”
Holt also said child care is a topic that seems up for addressing in 2020. He said folks are struggling to go to work when it costs so much for child care that they may as well stay home. He added it is also keeping people on government assistance.
It can keep some from accepting a promotion because if they receive a raise, they may lose government assistance. He referred to that as a cliff. House Republicans are hoping to turn that cliff into more of an off-ramp, he said.
If they get a job, then their government assistance is reduced a certain amount. It would continue to be reduced as they get raises until eventually it’s gone.
He said he’s a little less enthusiastic about some other ideas mentioned to address child care solutions.
“The more government programs we create, the more taxpayer money has to come out, the more these programs have to be funded into perpetuity and the more we’re teaching citizens to rely on government for the solutions to problems. And that is the road to socialism. There is such a thing as personal responsibility.”