There are numerous bills being considered which limit what a child can learn in school about gender, human papillomavirus (HPV) and HIV/AIDs, while banning specific books and much more. Governor Reynolds wants your child to only learn about her very narrow view of the world.
These bills are nothing short of dangerous and when they come from the Governor I have to believe they have legs.
Why is censorship so dangerous? Censorship policies are designed to control and limit the free speech and ideas of students. Such policies deprive students of the skills, the knowledge and the confidence to have critical conversations. No Iowa child should fear bringing their experience to the classroom. Censorship is hurtful and denies students the knowledge they need to critically analyze our society.
Professionals who work with children (counselors, social workers, psychologists and educators) are all wondering how they can maintain their professional duties to Iowa’s young people while complying with the extreme laws proposed.
I will be writing more about this as these bills pass through committees. I consider this to be one of the biggest challenges to our democracy. If Iowa’s children are not free to learn and read, they can’t possibly learn to think critically.
Writing about taxes can easily get in the weeds and lose a reader’s attention.
The problem: The Reynold’s Administration made an error in calculating property taxes that would have resulted in a significant property tax increase for homeowners. When the error was discovered, the Reynold’s administration failed to communicate the error to cities, counties, and school districts who were using the inaccurate projections to create their budgets. The information did not come to light until most local governments were well into creating their budgets. It would have been much better if Governor Reynold’s had been transparent about the error from the beginning.
The weeds: In 2013, a bill was passed that reclassified apartments and similar buildings as “multi-residential” property. This began a process of taxing these properties as residential properties, instead of commercial property. Due to miscalculation by the Reynolds Administration in 2021, residential property taxes in Iowa would have paid more.
The fix?: Under Senate File 181, while some residential property owners in Iowa will owe less in property taxes, some cities, counties, and school districts have already started making their budgets using the incorrect information provided by the Reynolds Administrations’ Iowa Department of Revenue. The mistake now leaves some local emergency services with a shortfall. It is assumed that the change will reduce total property tax revenues over $125 million.
Under this HF 181, Ames must either cut $775,000 from the budget or raise the property tax levy. Story County Supervisors must find $800,000 in budget cuts. Story County Supervisor Linda Murken said “Prices on everything are going up. Most notably rock for roads, equipment and IT supplies.” Ames Community Schools will see $71,000 less, which they use for building maintenance and technology.
How I would fix it. My Democratic colleagues offered a plan to lower property taxes for Iowans without sacrificing emergency services and public safety. The plan would have used the state’s Taxpayer Relief Fund, which holds nearly $3 billion, to cover the mistake instead of forcing local governments or taxpayers to pay for the error. The state is holding onto $3 billion of your tax dollars. The fund is even identified as a fund to relieve the tax burden on Iowans. The irony is that this bill prevents some property tax increase (although the city can still raise the levy) and it will reduce services that Iowan’s love: roads, libraries, public safety, county fairs, school safety and so much more.
Cities, counties and school districts have lost a lot of decision making power under Republican control.