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The second funnel (major legislative deadline) has passed, meaning that we’re one step closer to the scheduled end of the legislative session. The purpose of this deadline is to focus our work on the issues that appear to have enough support to pass both chambers.

Last year I was assigned to be the Senate floor manager for House File 604, which is a bill that is designed to provide better outcomes for Iowa’s deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. In order for these children to stay even with their peers in the classroom, we must find ways for them to effectively communicate at an early age. While I applaud the House for passing this legislation, I worked closely with the Dept. of Education during the interim to improve the bill by finding ways to provide better services to the families of DHH children.

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I believe the way we can do that is to provide a comprehensive family support mentoring program under the Dept. of Public Health (DPH). It’s difficult for parents who suddenly find themselves trying to learn how to communicate with and teach a DHH child, and mentoring by others can be a lifeline to those parents. Having effective communication skills prior to entering school is critical to effective learning. My amendment passed out of the Education Committee this week, and the bill is now eligible for floor action.

Last year I introduced a bill that would make much-needed updates to Iowa’s “bottle bill”, and this bill has proved to be a game-changer. My bill passed put of subcommittee this Monday, and an amended version passed out of the full Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. While I prefer the original bill, I believe even the amended version will substantially improve the program, and actually has a chance of reaching the governor’s desk. It’s time!

The plaudits for the tax bill passed last month by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Governor Reynolds continue to pour in from across the country. The non-partisan Tax Foundation released a lengthy evaluation of HF 2317, the largest income tax cut in Iowa history.

The piece begins by addressing how poor Iowa’s tax code was prior to the initial reforms in 2018:

The ongoing transformation of Iowa’s tax code is certainly remarkable. In 2018, Iowa had a nine-bracket individual income tax with a top marginal rate of 8.98 percent and a graduated-rate corporate income tax with a top rate of 12 percent, both with alternative minimum taxes; an inheritance tax; and a well-intentioned but distortive policy of federal deductibility. Once current reforms have phased in, Iowa will be able to boast a 3.9 percent single-rate individual income tax, a 5.5 percent flat corporate income tax, and no inheritance tax or alternative minimum taxes.

Historic. Major. Transformative. All those terms are used by the Tax Foundation to describe how dramatically the tax climate will improve in Iowa from 2018-2026.

Before the reforms of 2018 took effect, Iowa ranked 46th overall on our State Business Tax Climate Index, a measure of state tax structure. With the full phase-in of the newly enacted reforms, Iowa would rank 15th overall, an improvement of 31 places. This would tie North Carolina for the largest improvement in the Index’s history. In the wake of historic reforms beginning in 2013, North Carolina improved from 41st to 10th overall in seven years (currently 11th). 

In addition to the Tax Foundation report, the Platte Institute, a non-partisan, pro-growth organization in Nebraska also praised the tax relief package.

The Institute noted the significant advantage Iowa will have over Nebraska in attracting jobs and people: “If Nebraska does nothing, a person paying our top tax rate will pay about 75% more tax on every extra dollar they earn compared to their peer in Iowa.” Perhaps the most compelling part of the Platte Institute’s analysis was this statement, “But what has set Iowa apart in recent years is simply having leaders who agreed to pursue ambitious goals and accomplish them.”

That fact is why I am so glad to be a part of the Iowa Senate. Lean, efficient, stream-lined government is possible. Our team sets bold goals and takes on big issues. Fiscal discipline is hard to maintain, but our work to create conservative budgets the last five years unleashes the Iowa economy, sets the stage for transformative tax relief, and makes Iowa very competitive with other states.

Author: Ken Rozenboom

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