Discher: Tax bill hinders Iowa’s ability to meet needs of children

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Discher: Tax bill hinders Iowa’s ability to meet needs of children

 

On Monday, April 9, CFPC executive director Anne Discher testified before state lawmakers on HSB 671 — a tax reform and relief bill based on Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposal to cut state income taxes by $1.7 billion by 2023 while maintaining expected growth rates in revenue. Her full testimony is below:

My name is Anne Discher and I’m the executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center.  

Our organization advocates for policies that improve child and family outcomes in Iowa. That’s why we are opposed to House Study Bill 671. We believe children are the basis of our state’s future civic and economic well-being, and that Iowa needs a pragmatic budget that helps children and their families thrive. A pragmatic budget requires adequate revenue, smartly raised.

The Governor’s tax bill hinders Iowa’s ability to do these things.

Her plan would make annual reductions to the General Fund projected at up to $300 million dollars. Cuts like these would inevitably reduce Iowa’s ability to do the things we know we need to do, like make our foster care system work better for kids and improve our children’s mental health system.

Frankly, the state is already failing to keep up. I have three quick examples.

  • Early Childhood Iowa, the state’s cross-system initiative supporting the needs of infants, toddlers and preschoolers, has not seen a budget increase since it, like most state agencies, saw a 10 percent budget cut in 2008. It’s 2018.
  • Supplemental school aid for our K-12 system has been held to about average 1.7 percent growth over the last nine years. That’s far below the support needed to meet rising costs of running a school district.
  • Our state’s child care assistance program has among the nation’s lowest family eligibility rates. It reimburses participating providers—small businesses and nonprofits—based on the 2004 market rate, plus a few tiny increases over the years that bring it up to about the 2006 market rate. Again, it’s 2018.

These are just a few of the public services that keep Iowa children safe and healthy and help families stay in and succeed in the workforce. And they are already under stress.

New tax cut would make things worse.

In Kansas, big tax cuts were supposed to unleash economic growth. Instead they brought years of budget cuts that decimated public services. Between 2012 and last year, when Kansas lawmakers repealed the worst of the cuts under extraordinary pressure from Kansans, job growth in the state lagged far behind the U.S. average—and that of its neighbors, including Iowa.

This is the moment where Iowans will decide if we follow Kansas down that destructive path or continue our state’s traditional pragmatic approach to governing. I urge you to pick the pragmatic Iowa approach.

04/11/2018 3:09 PM |Add a comment
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