Key business takeaways from Gov. Reynolds’ Condition of the State
Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed her stance on several key issues on the minds of business leaders in her Condition of the State address this morning. Here are some of the key excerpts from her speech and the context surrounding each issue.
Invest in Iowa Act
Reynolds said she plans to introduce a bill that she said will cut income taxes, create a sustainable funding source for our mental health system, reduce the burden of property taxpayers, and fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust.
- What she said on water quality and conservation: “Under my bill, almost 58% of the trust fund, an estimated $100 million, will go toward water-quality efforts every year, representing an almost 31% increase in current funding. We will also commit $52 million for other conservation and outdoor recreation efforts, representing an increase of 9.3% of current funding.” This ties in with a $117 million regional effort that involves plans for 86 access areas along 155 miles of Central Iowa waterways and associated water quality improvements. See our previous coverage on the water trails here.
- She is proposing “to cut income tax by an additional 10% for almost every Iowan, with lower-income Iowans receiving as much as a 25% cut.”
- On mental health, she said she wants to “reduce property tax levies and provide the needed funding through the state general fund.” She did not list any specific budget numbers like she did on other issues, however. Advocates have said property tax levy caps were hobbling mental health districts. In a statement, NAMI Iowa Executive Director Peggy Huppert said she was excited to hear Reynolds request a “dedicated and stable source” of funding for adult and children’s mental health services and looks forward to hearing more details.
Reynolds proposed several changes to address child care affordability. She wants to expand early childhood tax credits. Right now they are available to families making $45,000 or less, and she wants to increase the limit to those making $90,000 or less. “We must begin to address the child care cliff so that we are not punishing parents as they continue on a path to self-sufficiency. To do this, we should implement a tiered co-pay system that doesn’t punish those who work hard enough to earn a raise.” She also announced she’s opening the Employer Innovation Fund to organizations that are expanding child care options in their communities. Check out our Insider story from our Leaders Survey, which included a question on child care affordability.
Reynolds continued to push work with employers to hire ex-offenders and to amend the state constitution so that it no longer bars felons from voting after they’ve served their sentence. She and her staff have hosted visits at correctional facilities to help move this forward. Take a look at our Insider story on employing ex-offenders and our story from a legal expert who said the new state law is not a guarantee your company won’t be sued for hiring an ex-offender.
Reynolds also called for modernizing Iowa’s employment licensing structure, which is stricter than most other states in the country. One proposal is standardizing how ex-offenders can get licensed. Another is to waive license fees for low-income individuals.
In addition to asking for statewide computer science classes for Iowa’s primary students, she called for more broadband funding. “I’m requesting that we appropriate an additional $15 million and adjust our state match so we can continue to leverage private and federal funding to build out broadband to every part of Iowa, making us the most connected state in the nation.”
On renewable fuels, she called “for an additional $2 million for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, as well as modernizing and expanding the E-15 Plus Promotion Tax Credit.”
Reynolds again called for a constitutional amendment to “not grant a right to an abortion.” She also proposed a fellowship “for new family-practice physicians who want to train and specialize in OB care. Each year, four new residents will complete the fellowship program and head back to their local communities, taking with them connections to OB specialists and an expertise to better treat mothers and their babies.” She also announced the launch of a tele-mentoring system where OBs can consult with physicians across the state.
‘This is Iowa’ campaign
“The goal is to show the country what we have to offer. To show that Iowa is the best place to live, work and raise a family.” Check out our Insider story on the campaign.
The budget she’s submitting includes an additional $20 million for flood relief. “Today, we heard Gov. Reynolds provide a clear vision for addressing many of Iowa’s largest challenges. The Iowa Business Council applauds the governor for taking on issues that will create economic expansion for all Iowans,” said Iowa Business Council Chair Mary Andringa of Vermeer Corp. “We look forward to working with the General Assembly and Governor Reynolds on policies addressing Iowa’s competitive tax climate, increasing investment in Future Ready Iowa and access to affordable child care.”
Read Reynolds’ full remarks here.