Iowa GOP lawmakers proceed to hunt compromises to finish the legislature

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) – The state legislature will be back in the Des Moines capital next week, kicking into the second week of overtime in the 2021 legislature.

The prospect of an adjournment still hangs on a number of issues, including passing the $ 8 billion budget for 2022 and disagreements between the two chambers over tax cuts.

Negotiations and talks between House and Senate Republicans and the governor’s office are ongoing.

This week lawmakers will start work on a tax plan proposed by Governor Kim Reynolds she described this as a compromise. The plan would involve moving funds for mental health services from the 99 counties to the state.

Senate Minority Chairman Zach Wahls, D-Iowa City, said there are real challenges with how part of the proposal is currently being written.

“During times of economic hardship, government revenues declined, but it is at this point that mental health financing services tend to increase,” he said. “We don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where we’re paying for mental health services that depend only on revenue, which may be in decline right now.”

The proposal would increase the level of income tax cuts that would go into effect in 2023 and phase out the state’s inheritance tax. It would also remove the income tax triggers created in the state Tax Reform Act 2018.

Reynolds said her plan would cut property taxes by $ 100 million.

“This would ensure sustainable funding and incentivize better care through performance-based contracts that set the barriers for regional spending and service equality, and ensure nationwide results,” Reynolds said. “The compromise also includes paying parodies for mental health services so that Iowans can access the care they need regardless of where they live.”

Your proposal also increases the number of people eligible for the childcare tax credit and increases funding for housing programs. Overall, Reynolds said her bill would bring Iowan’s tax cut of $ 400 million.

“Iowa has never been in a better position to take off Iowan’s tax burdens and invest state revenues in maintaining critical and critical services,” Reynolds said.

Senate Republicans expressed support for the governor’s proposal, while House Republicans expressed concerns about the state’s assumption of mental health funding.

House spokesman Pat Grassley, (R) New Hartford, said his caucus would like to see more “guard rails” to ensure the state can bear the cost of the welfare program. The governor’s proposal provides for some guard rails in the form of performance-based contracts.

“If the state pays the cost, look at over $ 120 million to pay that cost, and every year it will keep growing.” Grassley said in an interview with Ron Steele to the last episode of ‘The Steele Report’. “I think the best word we use is guardrails to make sure we don’t get into a situation where we have a program that is getting out of hand and then we cannot fund and maintain that level of service.”

Grassley said his caucus was working on the governor’s proposal to find common ground with their Senate counterparts.

“We looked at a few things in the governor’s proposal to reach consensus,” he said. “We worked that through as a caucus to see where we could get certain parts of these pieces.”

Some Senate Republicans criticized the House’s GOP proposal for being too modest, arguing that it spread the inheritance tax expiry over too many years.

“There are definitely some wins in the proposal we brought to the table and I think we have to be ready to get those wins and we have them to eliminate the triggers,” said Grassley.

Grassley said the House Republicans’ plan would bring back approximately $ 300 million in income tax credits through the Tax Relief Fund.

On the Senate side, the proposal would remove the “replenishment” of trade and business tax for local governments and abolish the tax on public education and leisure.

Senate leaders have refused to loan Iowan’s money back from the Taxpayer Funding Relief Fund.

“My mindset will always be that if we have an overpayment from the taxpayer and we can get it back in an efficient manner, that’s what we should do,” said Grassley. “You’re looking at well over $ 100, probably closer to 150 if not more per accountant.”

Democratic leaders said state lawmakers are wasting time debating bills that haven’t been put in the Senate because they have to come back up.

“Here we are now swinging into May and the Republicans are fighting over the tax budget and continuing to ignore the pandemic,” Wahls said. “The Republicans have basically ignored that and are now fighting each other over tax and household bills. They don’t really have a clear sense of how to get out of this mess. If they did it for themselves we have to wrap this up. ” above.”

Grassley said the House Republicans plan to move budgets through the houses even though Republicans have reached an agreement in both houses. Grassley said in time they have to keep things moving.

“We are in a position where we have the members who we need here to meet these budgets,” said Grassley. “I also think it’s important for the House to make sure we can show Iowans what priorities have been set in our budgeting process.”

Transgender athletes

Grassley said he was meeting with his caucus, the governor’s office and Senate Republicans on Governor Reynolds ‘urge that lawmakers pass a law preventing transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports.

During her weekly press conference on Wednesday morning, Reynolds called it a fairness issue. Girls should be able to compete and have equal opportunities.

Advocate with One Iowa called the push-upsetting and said the legislation doesn’t seem to be in line with science or what we’ve seen nationally or internationally.

“Whatever we’re supposed to do, I think we have to make sure we’re doing it right,” said Grassley. “I cannot guarantee that we will pass the bill on or tell you what an invoice would look like, but we are having these conversations to see what this path might look like.”

Wahls called the push a solution in search of a problem.

“It sends an incredibly hurtful message to a group of Iowans who are already very marginalized and harasses teenagers who are already going through a challenging situation,” he said. “It is a colossal waste of time and energy for a legislature that is already working overtime.”

The Senate should be back in session on Monday morning, the House on Tuesday afternoon. The legislature can still stay in session but is not paid.