We saw some positive movement this week as the Senate sent the House education reform bill (HF 215) back to our chamber. It now heads to conference committee where members will work through the differences. I am confident that they will come to resolution.
We are closing in on four weeks left in the scheduled 2013 legislative session. When the eighty-fifth General Assembly began, House Republicans committed to remaining focused on ways to make Iowa strong. We laid out a plan to create certainty with balanced budgets, promote job creation through tax relief and reform, and build strong schools and communities. Below is the current status update on pieces of our plan.
Strong Budget Leadership
The House has passed the Transportation, Administration and Regulation, Block Grants, and Education budget bills and sent them to the Senate. One bill remains –Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure. We are still awaiting action from the Senate on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health and Human Services, Justice Systems, Judicial Branch and Standings. They began moving the Economic Development late in the week.
As budget bills continue moving through the House, Republicans will stick to the principles:
- We will not spend more money than the state takes in;
- We will not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses;
- We will not intentionally underfund programs to balance the state’s budget;
- We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
Iowa has the third highest commercial property taxes in the nation and the 16th highest residential property taxes in the nation. Iowans have been very clear that they want property tax reform and relief this year at the statehouse. House Republicans remain committed to property tax relief for all classifications of property. While there is a willingness to put all ideas on the table, Republicans have stressed that reform must be meaningful, inclusive and reliable because taxpayers need relief they can count on.
As we close week 12, the House has acted on our property tax relief and reform bill. This plan:
- Holds harmless property taxpayers anytime the state sets allowable growth funding.
- Eliminates additional property tax levies associated with allowable growth funding, reducing the share of money that is put on the backs of Iowa property taxpayers. On average, this would save Iowa taxpayers $2.70 per $1,000 in property valuation when fully implemented.
This bill continues to move through the House.
Secondly, the House sent the Senate a bill to cut income taxes. This plan:
- Gives Iowans a choice when paying their income taxes, either the current system or a 4.5 percent flat tax with zero deductions or credits. No one will pay higher income taxes under this plan.
- Makes Iowa’s tax system simpler, flatter, and fairer.
- Raises the filing threshold so that the first $6,235 (or $12,450 for married couple) would not be taxed.
This bill passed the House and is awaiting Senate action.
Lastly, the House plans to fully fund the property tax credits – including the homestead, veterans and disabled tax credits — in the budget. Instead of making empty promises to Iowa taxpayers, House Republicans are fulfilling commitments that have been made to them.
This continues to move through the House.
Strong Schools and Communities
House Republicans are concerned about the quality and rigor of the education our children are receiving. We are concerned that students are not graduating with the mastery necessary to succeed in college or with the skills needed to enter the workforce which is why we moved forward on an education reform plan. This plan is bold, accountable, innovative and focuses state education spending on achievement-driven reforms that align our investments with practices and programs that have demonstrated improving student performance.
This bill passed the House, was amended by the Senate and sent to Conference Committee.
I look forward to more progress being made on these issues as we move through the session. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at my office at (515) 281-3521 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org