Gov. Kim Reynolds talks tax cuts, mental health in Condition of the State speech

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke at the Elite Octane grand opening Sept. 2. At the event, which fell on Labor Day, Reynolds voiced her support for American workers.

Katherine Kealey

Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State Address early Tuesday at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, and discussed her priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Reynolds’ address was full of potential changes, including establishing a strong mental health system for Iowa, amending the formula for Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreational Trust, improving fetal and maternal healthcare and creating accessible childcare all while cutting income taxes for Iowans.

“Instead of cutting school budgets, we are cutting taxes,” Reynolds said. “Iowans believe we are headed in the right direction.”

Reynolds announced the Invest in Iowa Act that raises sales tax by one percent, and plans to offset this by cutting income taxes for almost every Iowan by 10 percent and as much as 25 percent for lower-income Iowans.

After this round of tax cuts, the one year tax bracket will now be down to 5.5 percent by 2023. Reynolds said this progress will make Iowa competitive with other states.

Reynolds proposed through the Invest in Iowa Act the state reduce property tax levies, and provide the needed funding for mental health through the State General fund.

“No parent, family member, or friend should be told that treatment isn’t available for their loved one, and by establishing a dedicated and stable funding for mental health will give hope to so many that are suffering in silence,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds also discussed amending the Iowa Constitution to eliminate the right to abortion in the state. She said she is expecting to implement steps to increase the number of doctors that serve obstetrician-gynecologist services in all four corners of the state through fellowships for new family practitioners that want to train and specialize in obstetrician-gynecologist care.

Reynolds said she plans to expand health care to schools through tele-health, preventing disruption of education because of lack of accessible health care. She said this would not be possible without high speed broadband internet, and requested an additional $15 million and private and federal funding to make broadband accessible for all of Iowa.

As for education, Reynolds said she will continue to push for more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs throughout state schools. This year’s proposed budget would invest in $103 million in new funding for Iowa schools.

The Second Amendment Reynolds said she plans to try to make to the Iowa Constitution is to restore voting rights to felons that have served their sentences.

The amendment was passed by the House, but stalled in the Senate in the last legislative session.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach said he believes it would be far more effective for Reynolds to try to restore voting rights through an executive order.

“I think people who commit crimes deserve to be punished, and I have no problem with that, but once they served their punishment it is in society’s interest to have them rejoin society as constructive members and part of that is participating in democracy,” Quirmbach said. “Voting isn’t just a right or privilege it is our duty, and I think that is something we should expect people who have come out of the correction system to do.”

Quirmbach said he hoped Reynolds would have discussed fully funding state universities. The Board of Regents is asking for an $18 million increase and Quirmbach said that is not enough.

“That will not be sufficient enough to get us back to where [the universities] were three years ago, before the Republicans cut the budgets,” Quirmbach said. “The university has lost $33.6 million, last year the governor asked for 18 of that to be restored, but Republicans in the legislature only gave them 12.”

Quirmbach said he found this disappointing due to the three percent increase in tuition for next year for Iowa-resident students, which is above inflation rates, and if nothing changes the burden will fall on students and their families.  

Reynolds said she plans to continue taking these steps throughout her service to benefit for years to come.

“The Invest in Iowa Act will bring meaningful change in the very first year, but most importantly it looks to the future,” Reynolds said. “A future that will benefit our children and theirs. If we take this bold step right now, then whoever is standing at this podium 10, 20, 30 years: Republican or Democrat, can proudly say what I can say today and that is the condition of our state is strong.”