Throughout the fourteenth week of session the Senate debated bills, moved several appointments to boards and commissions from the governor, and advanced budget bills out of the Appropriations Committee. The Senate has proposed a budget of $7.99 billion for the next fiscal year. This amount includes increases for education, public safety, and mental health funding.
Under the Senate’s budget proposal, spending increases $193 million above the previous year. This amount puts the projected ending balance over $600 million and over $330 million will be in the Taxpayer Trust Fund. Some of the most important pieces of the Senate’s budget proposal include over $55 million for K-12 education, close to $100 million for health care, and an increase of over $17 million for public safety.
Another important part of this budget is the tax relief measures included. This year the Senate has passed several tax relief policies to help Iowa families and small businesses. We passed legislation guaranteeing the next round of tax cuts are implemented in the 2018 tax bill, eliminating the mental health property tax levy, and phasing out the inheritance tax in Iowa. The only way these tax reforms are possible is because of the strong financial position of the state budget. Tax relief for hard-working families is a priority for legislators, especially after a year when many Iowans could use some extra money in their pockets.
As the Senate moves forward with our budget proposals, I look forward to continuing discussions with the House of Representatives on passing the state budget for next year and ensuring real tax relief for Iowans.
The Importance of Permanent Tax Relief
Over the last year a common economic tool at the national level was the distribution of government funds directly to most Americans. While those payments have temporary value in addressing short term economic impacts, that policy does little to advance the goal of creating long-term economic growth and a pro-growth environment. Permanent tax relief for Iowa families and small businesses gives them certainty in their efforts to provide for their families, invest in a small business, and create or pursue new careers.
Last week the Iowa Senate passed SF 587, a major reform to property taxes and mental health funding in this state. The centerpiece of that legislation moves the cost of mental health from property taxes assessed at the local level to the state level. By moving the responsibility for funding the mental health system to the state level, this policy eliminates the mental health levy on property taxes.
Outside the Legislature
On April 6, 7, and 8, Compass Memorial Healthcare conducted a mass public vaccination administration clinic at their facility in Marengo. This was an event I was happy to attend. Over the course of these 3 days, the organization vaccinated 1,301 people from Iowa County, surrounding counties, and people from as far away as Illinois and far northeast Iowa. As a community health care organization whose mission it is to serve the public, Compass Memorial desired to do just this: serve the public.
I asked Compass Memorial Healthcare to put a few words together on this local effort:
“We at Compass Memorial felt very strongly that it was our duty and responsibility to be involved in this fight against Covid,” stated Barry Goettsch, FACHE, CEO for Compass Memorial Healthcare. Goettsch continued, “As a health care organization, we are ideally positioned and prepared to mobilize our resources to facilitate such an effort and thanks to our state senator Dawn Driscoll’s confidence in local health care, and her advocacy efforts in Des Moines, we were able to receive a substantial quantity of vaccine and successfully fulfill our responsibility.”
On the local front in Iowa County, Iowa County Supervisor Abby Maas joined the effort to support assurance that the allocation would flow, as intended, from the state through the county to Compass unimpeded. Goettsch concluded his statement with: “We should never underestimate or take for granted our elected officials passion and capacity to expect only the best for their constituents.”
I am honored to hear these words from Goettsch and the members of Compass Memorial Healthcare. It was important for me to advocate for my district, so that is what I did. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions and/or concerns on any piece of legislation throughout the rest of session.