(The Center Square) – Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley said lawmakers could expedite gradual tax cuts passed in 2022.
Grassley and other legislative leaders discussed their agenda on Monday, the first day of the Iowa Legislature. Democrats and Republicans discussed tax relief for Iowans but had different ideas.
The provisions of the 2022 bill rolled back the state’s marginal income tax rate from 6% to 5.7% this year. The eventual goal is to implement a 3.9% flat tax by 2026.
“I think this session we need to look at speeding up those previously passed cuts to provide relief for Iowans as soon as possible,” Grassley said.
Senate Minority Leader Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said in her opening remarks of the session that she had heard talk about eliminating the income tax altogether.
“Well, we’ve seen a lot of changes to the tax code already, and unfortunately, almost all of them have been giveaways to big corporations and the very wealthy,” Jochum said. “Our bottom line, we need middle class tax relief that reaches Iowa families in Iowa communities.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, who gives her Condition of the State address on Tuesday evening, said previously she would like to see the state’s $1.83 billion surplus from fiscal year 2023 used for tax relief.
Lawmakers also talked about the school shooting in Perry, which claimed the life of an 11-year-old student on Thursday. Grassley said every parent in Iowa should be able to send their children to school and trust they return home safely.
“It means investing in school security, it means prioritizing school resource officers, it means protecting children’s mental health, it means teaching resilience over victimhood and it means ridding our classrooms and school libraries of inappropriate materials,” Grassley said, referring to a bill that would remove books the referenced sexual acts of LGBTQ persons from school libraries.
The Legislature passed a bill banning the books last year, but a judge sided with the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal in a court challenge and issued a temporary injunction last month.
“I can’t wrap my head round how this issue of sexually explicit material in schools got so convoluted,” Grassley said. “I’m still shocked that we actually have people willing to fight this hard to keep pornographic material in our schools.”
Lawmakers will also look into K-12 standards,” according to Grassley, who referenced discipline issues in his remarks.
“We have heard from many teachers who have to deal with so many distractions and behavioral issues in the classroom that they can’t spend enough time actually teaching,” Grassley said.
Jochum said Democrats will also look at a way to get abortion into the state constitution. A court issued a temporary injunction in June that stopped a law that would ban most abortions at six weeks.
“Extreme bans like the ones the Republican majority forced into law last year attacked fundamental freedoms and endangered the health of Iowans,” Jochum said.