Last Minute Legislation Passed

As I write this newsletter, the end of the 2013 Legislative Session is here and as legislators go back to their regular jobs, getting the crops into the fields and continuing on with their family activities, I wanted to share some of the last minute legislation that was passed.

Property Tax Reform

I have advocated all session for much-needed comprehensive tax reform.  A bill was passed by both the House and Senate and sent to conference committee.  The result was the largest property tax cut in Iowa history that rolls back commercial property taxes to 90%, and residential and agricultural property taxes to 3% growth valuation.  Further, the bill gives a dramatic cut to apartment complexes and assisted living facilities.

While this legislation enables small businesses to save and Iowa families to keep more of their hard-earned money, I believe Iowans are still taxed too much and more relief can be achieved.  I will continue to fight for reforms such as locking down property tax valuation increases.

Alternative to Medicaid Expansion

The federal government is marching toward universal healthcare with the nation-wide push for Medicaid expansion.  The program funds are uncertain as the federal government struggles with spending issues and the bill seems to have no regard for the healthy outcomes of its participants. I want Iowa to take ownership of its healthcare program and find solutions that enable citizens to become healthier.

Iowans deserve affordable healthcare; however, allowing our state to become beholden to the federal government by expanding a flawed system is not the answer. Working to identify solutions to help Iowans lead healthier lives will reduce healthcare costs without saddling Iowans with higher taxes to pay for an unsustainable program. I did not support this expansion.

Education Reform

I have been working toward true education reform since 2004. Unfortunately the $2.7 billion education reform bill that passed fell very short of any reform that would improve student achievement. There was some good news for private schools and homeschooling parents. These reforms included independent accreditation of nonpublic schools, establishment of private instruction by a teaching parent that is exempt from school district reporting requirements, parental instruction of driver’s education, and parental instruction for up to four non-related students. I voted no on this bill because it lacks the necessary reform to fix Iowa’s schools.

Bottom line: We spent too much money. I have always said “put money in an elected body’s hands and it will get spent!” Well I was right. You were overtaxed and the money will be spent! I voted against every appropriation bill this session as the final budget number came in at $7 billion.  It is very frustrating to see our state government grow in a way that no Iowa family is allowed to function.