A new year brings new hopes, new dreams and new challenges for all of us. It also means new debates in government.
That goes for state governments.
Iowa state lawmakers get back to work in Des Moines a week from Monday.
It will be the third legislative session for Governor Kim Reynolds.
She has some unfinished business.
Reynolds told Iowa Public Radio criminal justice reform remains a priority.
Part of that is restoring voting rights for convicted felons after prison.
A constitutional amendment cleared the state house last year.
Reynolds wants the senate to go along.
Then there’s the always divisive budget.
The Legislative Services Agency indicates the state goes into the year with a $470 million surplus in the general fund.
Republicans in control the last two years enacted a large-scale tax reform package that cut income taxes for the highest earners and implemented a sales tax for online businesses.
The increase in the surplus now has business groups pushing to speed up implementation of the income tax cuts.
There is some support for increasing the sales tax to pay for water quality improvements.
Governor Reynolds indicates that would need to be offset by tax cuts in other areas.
Those are some of things to consider in Des Moines.
There are also the changes in neighboring states that might pressure lawmakers.
We talked about that with a couple of Iowa state lawmakers from the Quad Cities: Democrat Cindy Winckler and Republican Gary Mohr.
Budget and surplus
Winckler and Mohr addressed how much pressure there is to do something with that $470 million, what the likelihood the Republican majority will seek more tax cuts and if so, what those would be.
Public schools have not seen the spending increases they would like in recent years.
Mohr and Winckler discussed doing more to accommodate education.
Question of the week
Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.