Iowa’s budget, tax reform processes need transparency

Tod Bowman
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

     With roughly two scheduled weeks remaining on this legislative session, senators are working to wrap up important work before returning to their districts.

     I’m proud of the bipartisan efforts that have taken place thus far to make good policy for the people of Iowa. On Thursday, March 29, Governor Reynolds signed a comprehensive mental health bill that opens up more transportation and treatment options for Iowans with mental illness. She also signed a suicide prevention bill that provides teachers with the tools to recognize signs of depression and anxiety and to prevent suicide. We’ve expanded online educational opportunities, insurance coverage for telemedicine services and ensured security plans for every school in the state. Next week, the Senate will work on an education bill that expands financial literacy classes for all high school students.

     Despite good bills becoming law, we’re still missing two of the biggest, most time-consuming and important pieces of policy that MUST be done before we leave Des Moines.

     Our budget for the 2019 fiscal year is comprised of 11 separate budgets, including administration and regulation, agriculture, economic development, education, health and human services, justice, and transportation and infrastructure. Not one of these areas has seen a proposal yet this year. Senate Republican leadership is working on their budget proposal behind closed doors, without any bipartisan discussion or debate.

     The other huge piece of legislation that is being planned for this year is a comprehensive tax bill. Earlier this session, the Senate passed a fiscally irresponsible $1 billion tax cut that is not even being discussed by the Republican House. Instead, the House is working off the Governor’s tax proposal. Once again, there has been no opportunity for Democrats to provide input.

     While I’m proud of the bipartisan efforts so far this year, I’m disappointed that our budget isn’t being crafted and analyzed with contributions from both parties. We need transparency in our budgeting process so that I can represent and advocate effectively for my constituents and so that the people of Iowa have a chance to provide input into the most wide-reaching bills of the year. Responsible public policy is not crafted and rushed through behind closed doors, and ALL bills dealing with taxpayers’ money deserve the input of the people of Iowa.


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