116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — After 18 weeks of conversations about differences in their approaches to taxes, spending, a state takeover of mental health funding, improving access and affordability of child care and other issues, Republican legislators and Gov. Kim Reynolds haven’t reached an agreement.
However, “progress is being made,” House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said Friday after the House’s two-minute session.
“As I've said before, just because it doesn't look like there's not activity going on here that doesn't mean things aren’t getting done,” Grassley said in a virtual news conference from the Capitol.
The focus on negotiations is a sweeping “compromise” proposed by Reynolds that would provide $400 million in tax relief. Senate File 619, calls for eliminating the 2018 state income tax “triggers,” compressing brackets and reducing rates, phasing out the “backfill” aid to local governments and the state inheritance tax and exempting taxation on COVID-19 assistance.
It also incorporates various issues, including housing, energy infrastructure, child care tax credits and telehealth parity.
A major sticking point in negotiations, Grassley said, is the state takeover of funding mental health services, which now is paid for out of county property taxes. For the most part, House Republicans agree with the concept, but not necessarily how to do it.
“I would say that while the spirit of wanting to address these issues is certainly in place, our trajectory for getting across the finish line has, at times, been complicated,” he said.
Although he would not predict when the Legislature will complete its session that already has run two weeks past its scheduled adjournment, Grassley held out hope that agreements can be reached this weekend to make it possible to wrap up the session next week.
Paying for mental health services out of the state general fund would reduce the local property tax burden by $100 million, according to Reynolds’ plan. That is something House Republicans can get behind, Grassley said, but they want to make sure there is accountability and that Iowans have the same level of access to mental health services regardless where they live.
As opposed to the position of Senate Ways and Means Chairman Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, that “if we don’t do it now, folks, this is never going to happen,” Grassley didn’t close the door on a phased takeover of mental health funding.
“It’s more important, I think, for House Republicans to make sure we're doing this the right way than necessarily rushing something through,” he said. “If it takes a little bit more time, we're willing to work on that.”
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