Iowa’s 87th general assembly (2017-18) was a mind-boggling head-spinner. Two examples: 1) we saw a $1.058 billion negative budgetary turnaround yet legislators handed out $611 million as corporate tax breaks and 2) legislators continued to underfund K-12 public schools while trying to increase privatized tutorial education funding — go figure. To say the least, hope springs eternal when the 88th General Assembly convenes on Jan. 14.
If you’d like to see if your legislators will actually carry out their oath of office by truly representing and being your voice at Iowa’s Capitol, consider sending them one or more of these to-the-point letters:
Dear Legislators: Iowa privatized their $5 billion Medicaid health insurance program to provide proper health care service for 783,000 low income and disabled citizens and Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) had the audacity to allow UnityPoint Health to secretly keep $2.4 million in overpayments. We’re witnessing a 12-15 percent operating cost with out-of-state for-profit insurance companies running the program. Please conduct a non-partisan Legislative Post Audit on the program and honor 72 percent of Iowans who want to return to the pre-2016 operationally efficient and less costly (4-5 percent) non-profit managed care program.
Dear Legislators: Investments in Iowa’s K-12 public schools have been the lowest relative to cost-of-operation for eight of the last nine years; 1.1 and 1.0 percent increases in the last two years. The School Administrators of Iowa note schools need 3 percent yearly increase to meet their annual cost of operation (e.g., health care and property insurance, utilities, fuel, food, books, maintenance, etc.). Please get Iowa out of its current 16th worst financed public school districts in the USA ranking by making us no. 25 by 2020 and in the top 10 by 2021.
Dear Legislators: On May 23, 2013, legislation mandated a “rollback order” shifting the property tax burden from businesses to homeowners and farms. Residential property owners will experience a 2.3 percent tax hike in 2019 and agriculture owners a 3.1 percent tax increase. Legislators “promised” the state would reimburse local governments for the lost tax revenue. Many lawmakers want to stop any reimbursement to cities, which puts Iowa’s 947 city coffers between a rock and a hard place. Please stick to your promises and quit playing games with the taxpayers and city administrators.
Dear Legislators: Corporate tax credits have doubled in the past five years and 60 percent of the recipient companies do not pay Iowa income tax. Last year you handed out $611 million as corporate welfare tax breaks. Numerous research studies have concluded corporate incentives are of little-to-no long-term job creation or economic value. The independent Tax Foundation ranks Iowa as the sixth worse state for overall tax climate and 34th on the economy; corporate tax entitlements are not working. Quit throwing our hard-earned tax money to-the-wind!
Dear Legislators: Sixty-three percent of Iowans voted in 2010 to pay more taxes ($0.00375) to create the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund and improve outdoor, wildlife habitat and water quality. You’ve ignored our voted-upon demand for eight years. If you actually represent your constituents, enact our requested 3/8 of a penny tax increase as we want to improve Iowa’s environment.
Maybe you’d prefer to give legislators your two cents worth of advice on other topics such as nursing home inspections, child protection workers, collective bargaining, IPERS, voter registration, gun ownership background checks, mental health facilities, family planning services, hog confinements, infrastructure, women’s health care, etc. Be bold, brave and communicate with your legislators — otherwise, don’t complain when the legislature adjourns around May 3.