Common Good Iowa

2022 legislative agenda

Common Good Iowa's legislative priorities for 2022 reflect a wide range of concerns that lawmakers should address to make Iowa a welcoming, inclusive state that not only protects but promotes opportunity for every Iowan.

Safety net

The goal: Every Iowa family can access material and financial supports in times of crisis to avoid hardships and stabilize their households.

  • Reject bureaucratic barriers like repeated eligibility verification checks that take food, health care and basic support from Iowans. Such strategies do not promote work but set up administrative hurdles that make it harder for Iowans to stay healthy, put food on the table and support their families. 

  • Simplify application and re-enrollment processes so eligible families can receive assistance without barriers. The state should extend flexibilities in application processes made available during COVID-19 and make information more accessible to families without computer access and those whose primary language is not English.

    • Iowa should expand Express Lane Eligibility (ELE), a simplified process that allows states to determine eligibility for multiple programs through a single application. Iowa should expand its ELE, which now includes Medicaid, CHIP and SNAP, to include WIC and TANF.

  • Increase investments in the Double Up Food Bucks program, which doubles the value of SNAP dollars spent on fresh fruits and vegetables at participating Iowa grocers and farmers markets.

Racial equity in policymaking and service provision

  • Convene a cross-agency workgroup to establish race and ethnicity data collection standards and strategies for state-administered contracts with the goal of improving the completeness and accuracy of enrollment data by race, ethnicity and language. The state should facilitate best practices for maximizing member self-identification.

Health

The goal: Every Iowan can get the health services they need to get and stay healthy.

  • Extend Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women from 60-days postpartum to 12-months postpartum. By assuring continuity of care during an extremely vulnerable time, such a move will improve the health of new mothers – and set their children on a healthy trajectory.

    • Iowa should use the Low-Income Pregnant Women option to cover pregnant women through CHIP instead of Medicaid. This option would allow Iowa to save money — and keep the same level of care.

  • Include doulas as a covered service in Medicaid. Doulas are trained professionals who support mothers before, during and after giving birth.Including doula services as a standard benefit in Iowa’s Medicaid programs can help improve maternal health outcomes and enhance equity.

  • Conduct an audit of each of the state’s 14 mental health regions to document how much money each region spends on children (by age group) and by service type (health promotion, prevention and well-being; targeted interventions and supports; complex needs) to assure the mental health needs of children are being adequately met by current program structures and funding.

Child care

The goal: Every working family can find and afford quality child care they need to get ahead.

  • Support key recommendations in Gov. Reynolds’ Child Care Task Force report that emphasize quality and best practice.

  • Increase the Child Care Assistance (CCA) entry family income eligibility level to 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

  • Promote children’s health, safety and the overall quality of child care by requiring safe staff-to-student ratios, assuring that teen workers are properly supervised.

  • Increase provider pay to rates that reflect the actual costs of quality care so families have more choice of providers and providers themselves earn a living wage. 

    • Raise CCA provider reimbursement to the federal standard, 75th percentile of current market rate.

    • Maintain statewide investments in WAGE$, a salary supplement for the early care and education workforce, based on the individual's level of formal education and commitment to their program.

    • Invest in T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps), a scholarship program that provides the early childhood workforce access to educational opportunities and helps establish a qualified, fairly compensated, stable workforce.

Wages and workplace protection

The goal: Every Iowan has an opportunity to thrive in the state’s economy.

  • Expand enforcement capacity in the Department of Labor to increase worker safety and expand enforcement and crack down on wage theft, an estimated $600 million problem in Iowa, driven by misclassification of workers, forced and unpaid overtime, and other illegal practices.

  • Increase the minimum wage to $15. Iowa’s minimum wage has been held at $7.25 since January 2008. An increase to even $12 has been estimated to benefit more than 400,000 Iowa workers, plus their family members, in turn benefitting local economies.

PK-12 education

The goal: Every Iowa student has access to strong public schools that set them up for success in work and life.

  • Increase the cost per pupil in the state school funding formula (Supplemental State Aid, or SSA) by at least 4 percent.

  • Reject schemes that further divert state or local funds from local school districts to private schools, including school vouchers or so-called education savings accounts.

  • Connect more children, particularly those in groups that are currently underserved, including children of color and low-income children, to high-quality preschool experiences through the state’s Statewide Voluntary Four-Year-Old Preschool and Shared Visions programs.

  • Increase funding for community colleges and Regents universities to buck the long-term trend of students and their families paying more in tuition and fees and taking on more debt or simply deciding college is out of reach.

Early childhood

  • Tie funding increases for Early Childhood Iowa to the level of increase for SSA for PK-12 to assure funding keeps pace with costs.

Child Welfare

  • Support prevention and intervention services through the federal Family First Act.

Tax and budget

The goal: a fair, sustainable tax system that raises adequate revenue to create the freedom people need to thrive. Iowa lawmakers in the last 25 years have deliberately and steadily reduced revenues needed to maintain, much less enhance, public services. Along with income-tax cuts that have produced a less equitable system, lawmakers have diverted tax revenue to private interests through tax credits.

  • Make no new general cuts in income taxes for individuals or businesses. Instead, structure any income-tax changes in ways that target benefits to lower- and moderate-income Iowans, such as expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.

  • Require tax-credit reform as a condition for any further revenue reductions, focusing on tax credits that were subject to an in-depth evaluation by the tax expenditure review committee in December 2021: Research Activities Credit, High Quality Jobs Credit, and New Jobs Tax Credit. Any tax cuts should be paid for with increases in other taxes that not only assure at least revenue neutrality, but greater equity.

  • If a sales tax increase is implemented to fill the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, combine it with other tax changes that offset the regressive impact of the sales-tax increase. For example, if the sales tax is increased by more than the three-eighths-cent designated for the environmental trust fund, use the expanded revenue to pay for an increase in the state Earned Income Tax Credit.

  • Extend the sales tax to ag fertilizer, so that farms pay sales tax on fertilizer just as homeowners do for lawn care, and provide a funding source to address water pollution caused by agriculture.

  • In the absence of the three-eighths-cent sales tax increase sought by advocates to fill the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, implement other tax changes to meet environmental quality and outdoor recreation needs, such as tax-credit reform or expanding the sales tax to ag fertilizer.

  • Reform the state's tax-increment financing laws to assure a public benefit and greater accountability, and prevent unnecessary diversions of local tax revenue from their principal purposes.

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