Common Good Iowa

What would you like to see in Iowa's budget?

Posted on December 17, 2021 at 12:00 AM by Mike Owen

We have an opportunity in Iowa to do better for every Iowan. If we keep following the current mantra from Des Moines that we need tax cuts no matter their cost to public services, opportunity will inevitably suffer in our state.

The promise of Iowa, to be a welcoming and inclusive state where families and businesses want to grow, to be known as we used to be for a strong education system and clean air and water, will be lost without policy choices that nurture those values.

These are the types of messages our governor needs to be hearing, but it's not the thrust of comments this week in a one-hour public hearing as the budget is being built behind closed doors.

The 1.7 percent growth predicted for the next budget year cannot possibly provide room for new tax cuts if we are to keep up with existing obligations. We haven't been keeping up with increased costs for schools for many years now.

We do far too little for child care, for environmental quality, for public education across the board, and we would hope to see a rejuvenated interest in those commitments, which is what makes a state attractive for people to live and work, and for businesses to thrive.

Iowa is competitive already for business — tremendously so as shown in the graph below — and we've done a poor job of selling it.

Instead of new tax cuts, we could do a much better job making sure our state is an attractive place to raise families and to work.  That will come with initiatives for opportunity — and inclusion — through education, health, recreation, and safety at home, our streets and the workplace. We cannot cut our way to prosperity.

Those are some thoughts to consider as the governor and legislators develop a budget. What are some of your thoughts? Chances are, if they are not filled with tax cuts and budget cuts, and diversions of public funding to private schools, they were not part of the discussion in the exceedingly brief public hearing last week.

In that spirit, let's hear what you want to see. Email the themes, and some specifics, you would like to see reflected in the new budget to, and we'll compile some highlights that need a public spotlight.


Mike Owen is deputy director of Common Good Iowa.

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