The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa lawmakers pin tax reform, cost reduction as top priorities for 2024

On the opening day of the 2024 legislative session, Iowa legislators announced their priorities for the session.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, speaks during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. Konfrst has served in the house since 2019.

DES MOINES — Additional income tax cuts, and reducing costs for Iowans are among the top priorities for state lawmakers this session, legislators announced during their opening remarks on Monday. 

State House Republicans have their eye on speeding up the move to a flat tax rate for Iowans and are looking to further cut income taxes this session, while Democrats vowed to protect reproductive freedom. Both sides of the aisle want to promote reducing costs for working-class families. 

Iowa Senate President Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, spoke on Senate Republicans’ work to lower taxes, which resulted in Iowa’s tax climate improving by 13 positions in national rankings. 

Sinclair credited Senate Republicans for fueling a robust economy and providing Iowans more opportunities by lowering taxes and decreasing spending.

She said the state’s budget has never been in a stronger position with responsible budgeting resulting in only 88 percent of ongoing revenues spent, reserves filled to their statutory maximums, and a $2 billion budget surplus. 

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, plans to expedite tax cuts and condense the number of income tax brackets to make taxes “simpler and fairer.”

Iowa Senate Democrats leader Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said the majority of the tax cuts passed by Republicans have benefited wealthy Iowans most, and if there are further tax cuts she wants them to go to working-class Iowans. 

“Our bottom line is this: We need middle-class tax relief that reaches Iowa families in Iowa communities — not more handouts and free passes for the wealthy and the powerful,” Jochum said. “And any tax cuts must be smart and sustainable and maintain our essential investments in the people of Iowa.” 

Advocates caution more tax cuts will cut services

In a press conference on the first floor of the Iowa Capitol Building on Monday, Anne Discher, the executive director of Common Good Iowa, a policy research and advocacy organization, said there will be big trade-offs for tax cuts. 

Discher said the tax cuts enacted already benefit the wealthiest Iowans who earn $1.5 million a year saving $60,000 a year, while low-earning Iowans who earn $17,000 a year will see only $48 in savings a year, and median-earning Iowans with $70,000 a year see $1,440 in tax savings. 

Discher said if Republicans eliminated the income tax in Iowa, the state budget would be cut in half and Iowans would see radical cuts to school budgets, fewer mental health services, larger college tuition bills, dirty water, and fewer services overall. 

Discher said that Republicans delayed enactment of tax cuts, phasing them in for a few years, is an effort to hide their impacts on services to pass the cuts. 

“Lawmakers promoting these tax cuts understand perfectly that trade-offs like those are not popular,” Discher said. “So they will push out the implementation of these tax cuts so they don’t have to talk about the trade-offs they will bring. They will distract from the long-term damage by touting our budget surplus and the funds. They’ve been squirreling away in the Taxpayer Relief Fund.”

Bipartisan support for reducing costs 

Whitver said economists at the Revenue Estimating Conference determined that Iowa was experiencing organic economic growth, leading to higher-than-expected revenues. 

Whitver said the growth comes even with the largest income tax cut in Iowa history, combined with the elimination of the tax retirement income, the decrease in the inheritance tax, and a decrease in income taxes on Iowa businesses. 

He highlighted that Iowa has been rated as the No. 1 state for lowest housing costs and has the second-lowest health care costs in the nation. 

Jochum said costs are too high for Iowa families and that providing more funding for services important to the workforce, like child care and housing, will benefit all Iowans. 

“Every worker deserves a chance to earn a paycheck that supports their family and respects their work,” Jochum said. 

Iowa House Democrats Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said Iowa House Democrats are going to work to lower costs for Iowa families and that tax reform isn’t the only way to do so. 

“Iowa House Democrats firmly believe that a tax bill is not the only thing keeping families from feeling comfortable when they are doing their kitchen table budget,” Konfrst said. 

Democrats vow to fight for protections for reproductive freedom 

Jochum spoke about safe and legal access to reproductive health services, including abortion. 

“Extreme bans like the one the Republican majority forced into law last year attack fundamental freedoms and endanger the health of Iowans,” Jochum said. 

Jochum voiced Senate Democrats’ plan to write reproductive freedom into the state constitution and expand access to birth control.

Konfrst committed to working with Republicans on bipartisan issues and hopes Republicans will do the same. In her opening remarks, she committed to defending reproductive freedom during this session.

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.