As I write this newsletter it is Wednesday night of the first week of the 2022 Legislative Session. As I was walking through my hotel lobby to my room this evening, the television screens were blaring the news of 40-year record high inflation. While I waited for the elevator, that report ended and was followed by a story about empty store shelves and supply chain issues. Without a doubt, federal government policies in reaction to COVID have produced what many of us predicted would be profoundly negative consequences for our society and our nation. Yet, in Iowa, thanks to the leadership of Governor Reynolds and Republicans in the Legislature, the negative consequences have been far less severe. This is evidenced by the ambitious agenda Governor Reynolds was able to put forward in her Condition of the State address given Tuesday night.
As a result of fiscal responsibility and disciplined budgeting principles, Iowa has over a billion dollars in surplus funds, and our reserves and rainy-day accounts are full. It is because of this that Governor Reynolds can propose an ambitious plan to overhaul Iowa’s tax structure, which despite historic tax cuts by Republicans in the last few years, remains a detriment to greater economic growth. The Governor proposes elimination of all tax brackets, moving to a 4% tax for everyone. This alone will greatly reduce the tax burden of Iowans, but she is not done yet. She further proposes to eliminate the income tax altogether for retirees, which is a major factor for many who choose to leave our state upon retirement and head to tax-friendlier states.
Governor Reynolds also offered ambitious initiatives to overhaul our unemployment system, which she stated she would rather call a “reemployment” system. I could not agree more. Our social safety net, as I have said many times in speeches and in my newsletter, has become a hammock for those who can work but choose not to do so, stealing the fruits of their fellow citizens’ labor. It does not pass the common-sense test that we have so many on unemployment while employers are pleading for workers just to continue normal operations. Governor Reynolds proposes shortening the time people can be on unemployment from six months to about four months, while also strengthening verification that the unemployed are actually out looking for a job.
The Governor is also focused on other initiatives to grow the work force and our economy, including expanding apprenticeship programs, incorporating work-based learning in schools, expanding access to childcare, eliminating unnecessary licensing requirements that are a drag on economic growth, expanding the loan forgiveness program for healthcare professionals who remain in Iowa, tort reform, and the first-ever teacher registered apprenticeship program in the nation. The Governor also announced the rewarding of a $1,000 bonus for teachers who stayed on the job during COVID and who continue teaching next year, and a $1,000 retention bonus for our law enforcement and corrections’ officers.
Governor Reynolds spoke for many of us when she addressed the issue of obscene materials in schools and the need for greater transparency and parental control. As she stated in her speech, we have heard you and action will be taken. To that end, it is also important that we give parents greater choice in the education of their children. I am encouraged by the Governor’s initiative to allow middle and low-income families and students with an individualized educational plan the opportunity to receive a portion of the ‘per pupil’ funds allocated annually by the state, in order to move their child to the education system of their choice.
Bold proposals to meet the challenges we are facing. I am grateful for the leadership of Governor Kim Reynolds and my fellow Republicans in the House and Senate. We will carefully consider the Governor’s proposals, and work with her to meet the challenges we face.
In Iowa, we may not be able to stop an out-of-control federal government and the policies that have resulted in record inflation and some empty store shelves, but we can continue to enact commonsense policies to move Iowa forward and mitigate to the greatest extent possible the destructive federal agenda. Most importantly, we can continue to put our faith in our fellow Iowans, because as Governor Reynolds so eloquently stated, “Iowans always come through.” Yes, indeed they do.