Cornfields, common sense and community
The third week of the 90th General Assembly has come and gone. This week we had a number of visitors including: Drake Pharmacy Students, medical students from Des Moines University, members of the Ag business community, as well as other mental health professionals. Many of these individuals came to the Capitol to testify in subcommittees or to share stories related to the policy discussions.
I also had the opportunity to meet with some of the Marshall and Story County Pork Producers. It was good to hear from so many local constituents.
On Jan. 1, parts of our 2022 tax relief bill started to take effect and Iowans are already seeing the results. This year there are four tax brackets, brought down from nine, now with a top rate of 6.5 percent. Over the next few years, the rate will continue to be reduced until we reach a flat tax rate of 3.9 percent. This means this month, Iowans are seeing more money in their paychecks, more money in their pockets, and more money to help manage the inflation war being waged as a result of the Federal Government spending.
Senate Republicans are always looking for ways to make Iowa the best state to live, especially as other states seem to seek to punish their citizens. Just this week the Wall Street Journal wrote about eight states banding together to increase taxes on those trying to leave high tax states. The Journal wrote, “The California bill would also require taxpayers with illiquid assets to file yearly reports on their holdings and eventually pay the tax, even if they move out of state. Communist China doesn’t even do that.”
Iowans want common-sense solutions to the challenges we are facing. As other states are implementing policies to chase the productive segments of their economy out of their state, Iowa is lowering taxes, eliminating needless regulations, giving parents educational choices and becoming an attractive state for those Americans. We are confident Iowa is on the right path, and we will keep delivering real results for working families.
This week the Senate and House both passed the Students First Act. Governor Reynolds introduced this bill after her Condition of the State speech. She has led on this issue for years and made it a priority in her campaign, a campaign she won by nearly 20 percent.
The Students First Act creates an Educational Savings Account (ESA) for Iowa families to use to access an accredited non-public school. This amount is equal to state funding provided to public schools. For next year it will be approximately $7,600. It will be available in the first year of implementation to incoming kindergarten students, students currently in public schools, and families with income of less than 300% of Federal Poverty Level. The program expands by year three to include all families.
One comment frequently made about the Students First Act is private schools are not accountable. This claim is easily debunked by the reality that private schools have the same accreditation standards used by public schools or by another accreditation system approved by the Iowa Department of Education.
The bottom line is, we are focused on student achievement. We need to challenge the saying “if we had more money we could do better” in education. Iowa citizens are spending the majority of our tax dollars on education and we aren’t gaining the results needed to keep up nationally.
Not every child excels in the public-school system and they should have the opportunity to be successful.
Our public educators have been working hard to meet the educational needs of Iowa children and to provide innovative ways to connect individuals to the workforce. However, there are some children that just don’t fit the mold. Parents who were not financially able to find the right educational mold for their child now have a new opportunity to do so.
If our state is going to continue to have economic success we must continue to address the needs of our economic engine. We must ensure we have a competent, well-educated or trained, motivated, and hard-working employment pool. We must also maintain a competitive tax climate that allows all Iowans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Feel free to contact me with questions.
Jeff Edler, a Republican from State Center, represents District 26 in the Iowa Senate.