On Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered a message about the state’s condition to our state lawmakers that was anything but routine. She called on her Republican majority in the Legislature to pass major changes to the state’s tax laws, its approach to unemployment policies and the options available to Iowans for raising their children.
The Governor wants the Legislature to begin transitioning Iowa from its current graduated income tax system to a flat tax (i.e. the same tax rate for everyone subject to income tax). tax). Additionally, she called for the elimination of taxes on income earned during Iowans’ retirement years. The governor argued that the state is currently collecting far more tax revenue than it needs to fund its obligations.
Seeing the abundance of vacancies in our state, Reynolds wants the state government to revise its approach to unemployment. She advocated reforms that put more emphasis on guiding the unemployed into new employment. The system she envisions would also make the eligibility period for unemployment benefits shorter than current state policy.
The governor acknowledged that while Iowa has outstanding public schools, some parents find this option less than ideal given their values and goals for their offspring.
Reynolds noted that currently only relatively affluent families have the option of easily opting out of the public school system. She proposed that the legislature allow middle- and low-income families to receive a portion of the funds allocated to educate their young people in public schools to help fund educational alternatives.
Reynolds effectively led Hawkeye State before and during the ongoing pandemic. The schedule she has set for 2022, however, is much more aggressive than anything she has stood for before. The major changes she recommends will meet with strong opposition. Therefore, she will have to argue these and her other proposals skillfully if she is to prevail. Democrats will almost certainly have serious reservations about the game plan the governor envisions for our state.
The main goals that Reynolds touted in his speech are very much in line with the policy agenda advocated by the most conservative GOP leaders. If she succeeds in turning them into law in Iowa, she will likely bolster her claim to be a key leader of her party’s conservative wing nationally. She may well become one of the governors under serious consideration for her party’s vice-presidential nomination in 2024.
The Messenger applauds the audacity of Reynolds’ speech. We can’t wait to hear more about the rationale for its more controversial goals. We urge lawmakers in the region to think carefully about these proposals. Such significant changes should not be made without careful deliberation and debate.