Iowa state lawmakers are honing in on a final budget — their principal mission of the legislative session.
Republicans in control seem laser-focused on cutting taxes.
Higher revenue projections boost their cause.
Governor Kim Reynolds is pushing to get rid of the tax triggers that required a certain revenue growth target to implement those cuts.
This would speed up that process.
Republicans also want to eliminate the inheritance tax over time and lower property taxes.
Here’s a closer look at a few of the spending increases in the budget proposal:
+ Total education would get more than $80 million in new money — $55 million of that for public school and $25 million for higher education.
+ An increase of $98 million for health care overall — $15 million of that for nursing homes and home service providers and $60 million for mental health services.
+ An increase of $13 million for public safety — the Department of Public Safety gets $5 million of that and more than $4 million for the Department of Corrections.
Iowa’s budget is always the biggest piece of legislation every year and the fight for money tends to be divisive along party lines, especially when it comes to any decisions regarding taxes.
Someone in the middle of that is Represenative Gary Mohr of Bettendorf.
He joined 4 The Record for a conversation this week.
A couple of weeks ago the Revenue Estimating Conference projected a confident outlook for Iowa.
It raised the expected revenue by more than $100 million to put the budget above $8 billion.
Governor Reynolds is trying to seize the opportunity to eliminate the triggers on the income tax cuts so lower rates can take effect faster.
Mohr addressed why Republicans want to speed up the process if these were established for practical purposes to avoid financial pitfalls and how he can make the case that now’s a good time considering there is still economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
Money for public schools is always a controversial issue in Iowa.
This year it’s complicated by legislation that’s moving forward to allow for private charter schools to get public taxpayer money.
Groups would be able to create the schools without approval from the local school board.
I believe Iowa only has two charter schools right now.
That would likely increase significantly if this is adopted.
A Des Moines Register poll found most Iowans oppose that.
This bill passed the Iowa House of Representatives with Republicans behind it.
Mohr was one of two Republicans who voted against it, so we asked him why he split from his party.
Mohr did vote for House File 847 that would expand open enrollment in Iowa.
Opponents see this as a threat to a lot of poorer performing schools by letting students leave rather than dedicating the resources to make them better.
Mohr explained his reasoning for going along with this legislation.
Watch the full conversation in the video above.
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.