BOBSLED TO BANKRUPTCY: Senate Republicans pass $1.2 billion tax plan
Tune into Channel 13 News’ “The Insiders” at 10:30am Sunday, March 4th. Senator McCoy sits down with Dave Price to discuss Senate Republicans tax bill that passed and other bills being considered at the Statehouse.
IN THE MIDST OF BUDGET CRISIS, TAX PLAN IS BAD NEWS
It’s been more than 80 days since we learned that the state budget is $35 million in the hole. That problem has not been fixed, and work hasn’t begun on next year’s budget. Yet Senate Republicans insist on a tax plan that is expected to cost the state $1 billion per year.
The truth is that millionaires and large corporations will gain the most from this legislation – and at a big cost to everyday Iowans. According to the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, the legislation “would erode revenues, create structural budget deficits for years to come, and force cuts certain to imperil Iowa’s basic infrastructure and traditionally accepted responsibilities for its residents.”
SF 2383 would harm Iowa’s economy because it’s patterned after a similar plan that crashed and burned in Kansas. Fiscal mismanagement has created a crisis in Kansas that has caused massive cuts to education, public safety and other vital services.
SF 2383 does not make sense when you consider that:
An ill-conceived proposal is moving forward to break a promise of tax relief for local Iowans (SF 2081). Cities, counties, townships and school will all lose money they’re counting on, an especially devastating move for our small towns and rural areas.
No changes have been made to the huge tax breaks for big corporations.
Iowans are being forced to pay $1.75 million for a sexual harassment lawsuit that should be the responsibility of the guilty Republican State Senators and staff.
The state continues to throw millions in taxpayer dollars at the Governor’s Medicaid privatization mess that still doesn’t pay its bills on time and has jeopardized the health of vulnerable Iowans.
The Republican-controlled Legislature is shortchanging our students and schools with another year of inadequate funding (HF 2230).
College and worker training, job creation, protections for vulnerable Iowans, public safety and justice for crime victims all face more cuts to bail the state out of its budget hole (SF 2117).
STACKING THE DECK AGAINST INJURED WORKERS
The attack by the Legislature on Iowa workers continues for the second straight year. Senate File 2305 stacks the deck against Iowans injured on the job. The bill was approved February 27 on a vote of 28-22, in spite of bipartisan opposition.
I have supported efforts by the state to fight fraud and to make sure injured workers get a fair deal.
However, I oppose the new legislation because it’s unnecessary to establish a special Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit and make workers’ comp fraud a felony. It’s already illegal to commit insurance fraud — including workers’ compensation fraud — and we already have a unit that investigates insurance fraud—including workers’ compensation fraud.
Criminal penalties and fines will be deposited into a Fraud Penalty Fund, which will help pay the salaries of investigators, so they are essentially working on commission at the expense of injured Iowans.
SF 2305 will discourage injured workers from filing legitimate claims. It’s a backdoor attempt to stop them from getting the compensation and health care they’re owed when hurt on the job.
At one time, the Insurance Journal ranked Iowa’s workers’ comp system 3rd in the nation and gave it an “A” grade. Iowa’s Economic Development Authority bragged that our state was 11 percent below the national average for workers’ compensation premiums.
Extreme legislation over the last year has upset what used to be a well-balanced system. This bill, which is now under consideration in the House, hurts hard-working Iowans and does nothing to move our economy forward or make Iowa a more attractive place to live.
ANOTHER YEAR OF INADEQUATE SCHOOL FUNDING
The Legislature has finally approved school funding for the 2018-19 school year. I opposed HF 2330 because it amounts to another year of inadequate funding, which is bad news for Iowa students, families, educators and communities.
The amount approved is even less than what the Governor recommended, is below the rate of inflation and is simply not enough to provide a top-notch 21st century education to our kids.
Education in Iowa gets a smaller slice of the state budget pie than it does in most other states, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. In a recent report, Iowa ranks 34th in the nation in percent of state dollars spent on K-12 education, well below the national average.
Even in tough fiscal times, budgeting is about setting priorities. Parents, teachers and communities want us to make education a priority in the state budget. They increasingly tell me that local schools can only afford the bare minimum, not the world-class education our kids deserve.
MORE TRANSPORTATION DOLLARS PROVIDE FAIRER SCHOOL FUNDING
The Legislature has taken a small step in the right direction by passing $14 million in additional funding to make things a little fairer for students, regardless of where they live.
I preferred a more comprehensive plan that we developed in collaboration with the Iowa Association of School Boards and a bipartisan group of legislators. But after two years of negotiations, SF 455 finally has been sent to the Governor.
The bill reduces the gap in how much school districts can spend per student with the money they get from the state. Every school district will receive a portion of this $2.9 million effort – either to increase school funding or for local property tax relief.
In addition, a new $11.2 million fund will help school districts that spend the most to bus their students. School districts in Iowa’s small towns and rural areas are using more and more of their education funding to pay for transportation. This translates into fewer dollars for the classroom.
The one-time investment by SF 455 will not eliminate the problem, but it does provide much-needed financial assistance to 140 school districts, making the amount available to educate our kids a little more equal once they arrive at the school doors.
10 GOOD BIPARTISAN BILLS THAT ARE MOVING FORWARD
Expanding Safe Haven laws (SF 360). Passed the Senate unanimously and is now under consideration in the House.
Good Samaritan protections for seeking emergency assistance for alcohol overdoses (SF 415). Passed the Senate unanimously and is now under consideration in the House.
Guaranteed health care coverage for services provided over telemedicine (HF 2305). Passed the House unanimously and is now under consideration in the Senate.
Requiring everyone with an OWI to get an ignition interlock and eliminating temporary license restrictions (HF 2338). Passed the House unanimously and is now under consideration in the Senate.
Guaranteeing health care coverage for spouses of fallen officers who were killed in the line of duty (HF 2351). Passed the House unanimously and is now under consideration in the Senate.
Having every Iowa school establish a security plan to follow in emergencies (SF 2253).
Expanding services for Iowans with complex mental health and substance abuse needs (SF 2351).
Making our roads safer by expanding the Move Over, Slow Down law (HF 2304).
Keeping anyone convicted of sex offenses off school property (HF 2276).
Studying how best to treat sex offenders who require nursing care (HF 2345).
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Arts grants available
Through May 1, artists, nonprofit organizations, communities, tribes and schools can apply for funding to cultivate creativity, learning and participation in arts, while building culturally vibrant communities. Available Iowa Arts Council grants include:
School Arts Experience Grant - $200 to $1,000 for school field trips to arts events, in-school artist residencies or equipment for the classroom.
Capacity Building Grant - Up to $5,000 to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations with budgets under $150,000.
Artist Fellowship Program - $10,000 and professional developments to help Iowa artists advance their careers.
Art Project Grant - $1,000 to $10,000 to artists, nonprofits, schools and communities for arts projects.
Cultural Heritage Project Grant - $1,000 to $10,000 to nonprofits and communities for heritage projects.
Memorial Day weekend camping reservation window opens today
If you like to camp during Memorial Day weekend, you can now reserve a state park campsite for the weekend of May 25-28. New for the 2018 season, 75 percent of available campsites at each park can be reserved through the online reservation site; the remaining 25 percent are available first-come first-serve at the park. A few campgrounds will be closed all summer for renovations, but the parks will be open for day visitors.
More ways to follow winter weather
The weather has been unpredictable this winter—bitterly cold, followed by heavy snow, followed by warm, spring-like days. With the official end to winter still weeks away, we need to be prepared for more.
Motorists want to know if and when it’s safe to travel. To help, the Iowa Department of Transportation has more than 600 cameras on their snowplows around the state. The cameras show road conditions in real time so that drivers can make informed decisions about hitting the streets.
When the weather is bad, go online to see road conditions in your area.
This is a legislative update from State Senator Matt McCoy, representing the west part of Des Moines, portions of West Des Moines and northwest Warren County.
To contact Senator McCoy when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at 515-274-0561. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Senator McCoy is an Assistant Leader, as well as ranking member on the Transportation & Infrastructure Budget and the Government Oversight Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Local Government and Ways & Means committees.