From Rep. John Wills’ newsletter:
This week was the start of the 2020 Legislative Session. The House Republicans and the Governor both released their priorities. I would like to touch on the House priorities first, and then the Governor’s. You will find that both sets of priorities are complementary but take a different approach in reaching the end goal.
The House intends to continue its leadership on the budget. Ten years ago, the State of Iowa was in a much different position than it is today. The state budget was facing a billion-dollar deficit, K-12 schools and other critical programs were seeing their funding slashed, and Democrats were dragging the state deep into debt.
When House Republicans retook the majority in 2011, one of the first orders of business was getting our fiscal house back in order. Since then, House Republicans have changed the culture of budgeting in Des Moines from one of debt and deficits to one that fulfills commitments and values the taxpayer.
The House intends to address Iowa’s worker shortage by taking the next step and looking at some additional challenges that are holding workers and employers back from reaching their full potential. Childcare is one of the major issues that contribute to Iowa’s workforce shortage. Too often, a parent is forced out of the workforce, not by choice, but out of necessity, because childcare is either unavailable or unaffordable.
A lack of broadband infrastructure is another issue that often restricts our workforce. A reliable high-speed internet connection is critical for both employers and workers. Small businesses are increasingly dependent on quality broadband to operate successfully.
The House Republicans have had a long commitment to making Iowa’s schools world-class institutions. House Republicans will set the K-12 budget early, and with priority status, so that school boards have the time and ability to make wise budget decisions.
Governor Reynolds highlighted K-12 funding in her Condition of the State address but also included goals such as the Invest in Iowa Act, Protecting Life Amendment, and Felon Voting Rights. These are all issues that House Republicans applaud, and these priorities are in step with those listed above.
Here is a summary of what the Governor is proposing.
For the Invest in Iowa Act, the Governor will propose a 1 penny sales tax increase, that will fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund (IWILL). The act will also reduce the tax burden on Iowans by an average of 10 percent, with the lowest wage earners seeing a 25 percent reduction. The Act will create a sustainable funding source for Mental Health programs and reduce property tax by as much as 80 million dollars state-wide.
The Protect Life Amendment that the Governor discussed establishes the fact that no one in Iowa has the “right” to an abortion. A State Supreme Court ruling last year said that women have a right to an abortion, which could require providing state-funded abortions. Iowa Taxpayers should not have to shoulder that kind of burden.
Finally, the Governor discussed her desire for returning the voting rights of convicted felons after they have paid restitution and served their time. This issue will have to be vetted because many people feel there are differences for a felon who committed a white-collar crime and one who committed murder.
As always, I appreciate being able to represent and serve you in Des Moines. I will work hard to bring our Northwest Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines.