Guest Columnist

Reynolds: Plan for tomorrow, invest in Iowa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds addresses journalists before the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance annual meeting at the Doubl
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds addresses journalists before the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance annual meeting at the DoubleTree Cedar Rapids Convention Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

There’s an old Greek proverb that says, a society grows great when people plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit. And even though opportunity lives here today, with a strong, growing economy, we have to be planning for tomorrow, not today.

That’s what the Invest in Iowa Act is all about. It will address two of our greatest challenges as we look ahead into the future: competitiveness and quality of life.

My plan will provide tax relief for hardworking Iowans, generate sustainable funding for water quality and conservation projects and fully fund our mental health system.

On taxes, it will provide meaningful income tax relief for Iowa families. On average, it lowers taxes by 10 percent the very first year, with lower income Iowans benefiting the most and seeing a 25 percent cut. Those are real dollars back in the pockets of working Iowans.

Today, Iowa ranks 42nd in the nation in personal income taxes — just a few spots better than Vermont, Minnesota, New York and California. The plan I’ve put forth will move Iowa to 20th, a substantial improvement to our competitive position that makes us more attractive to businesses and workers. The plan also reduces property taxes and dramatically expands child care credits, benefiting working families in every corner of the state.

The second part of the Invest in Iowa Act funds water quality, conservation and outdoor recreation at historic levels. A decade ago, Iowans voted overwhelmingly to allocate three-eighths of a cent in sales tax to this critical quality of life need. Under my plan, $100 million per year would be allocated to water quality efforts, with another $55 million annually to improve outdoor recreation and conservation. This level of investment is a lasting legacy we can leave for future generations.

And finally, this is a plan to help some of our most vulnerable Iowans by strengthening our mental health system. We’ve made major reforms and significant investments in mental health the last two years to ensure Iowans have access to mental health services. But now we need to fully fund the system in a sustainable way that takes most of the burden off local property taxpayers, which is what my plan does.

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To make this all happen — meaningful income and property tax cuts, historic investments in the environment and a fully-funded mental health system — the Invest in Iowa Act includes a penny increase in the sales tax. But make no mistake, I am not raising taxes. The penny increase is more than offset by tax cuts and added exemptions aimed to help working class Iowans such as exempting diapers and feminine hygienic products from the sales tax.

The Invest in Iowa Act is a big idea and bold reform. It’s the tree that we can plant today to provide shade, and limitless opportunity, for future generations of Iowans.

Kim Reynolds is governor of Iowa.

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