Common Good Iowa

Publications

Common Good Iowa regularly releases reports, fact sheets and briefs on an array of policy priorities to advance opportunity for all Iowans. Browse them here. 

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Health and food security

April 27, 2021

The Iowa House released its the Health and Human Services budget bill late last week, and it charts a far a better path for our state than the Senate HHS budget proposal released earlier in the month. 

April 20, 2021

SNAP, called Food Assistance in Iowa, helps people get back on their feet after tough times. A section of the Health and Human Services budget bill — Division XIII of SSB 1267 — would make significant changes to SNAP eligibility and require DHS to implement a complex real-time eligibility verification system for Iowans enrolled in assistance programs. Maintaining program integrity is a shared goal: advocates want every dollar to go to families who need the help.

March 2021

SF 389 would have the Iowa Department of Human Services implement a complex real-time eligibility verification system for Iowans enrolled in assistance programs, including SNAP. It would set up complicated hoops for families to jump through and cause eligible Iowans to lose their food assistance. It should not become law.

February 2021

Maintaining program integrity is a shared goal — as advocates, we want every dollar to go to families who need the help. But SSB 1125 is not a common-sense approach. It’s a pointless, pricey scheme that will increase bureaucratic red tape and administrative costs and make it harder for Iowans to stay healthy, put food on the table and support their families. 

July 2020

Increasing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, during an economic downturn is the best, most direct way to ensure Iowans have the food they need and to stimulate local economies. 

July 2020

Given the current crises, Iowa needs Congress to act and provide additional, substantial relief to ensure Medicaid remains strong and can do its job in supporting Iowa families.

April 2020 | Natalie Veldhouse

Iowa should continue to leverage SNAP in its response to the COVID-19 crisis, using the many supports now available to the state, thanks to key changes at the federal level.

January 2020

HF 2030 is not a common-sense approach. It’s a pointless, pricey scheme that will increase bureaucratic red tape and administrative costs and make it
harder for Iowans to stay healthy, put food on the table and support their families. 

Health coverage before, during and after pregnancy increases access to preventive care, improves health outcomes for mothers and children, and reduces maternal mortality rates. 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.

Family financial stability

August 16, 2021

By now many Iowans know that the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress earlier this year included an important expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). In fact, if you have children under age 18 living in your home, you have probably already received at least one monthly payment in your bank account. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about how the CTC works for most families

April 16, 2021

By now, many of us have seen the first of many benefits of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) — funds deposited in our bank accounts. The COVID-19 recovery bill passed by Congress and signed by President Biden March 12 authorized the payment of $1,400 per person for every adult and child in a household with income below the threshold: $75,000 for single adults, or $150,000 for a couple.  

April 16, 2021

Iowans already are seeing the first of many benefits of the latest COVID-19 relief bill — funds deposited in our bank accounts. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) authorized the payment of $1,400 per person for every adult and child in a household with income below the threshold: $75,000 for single adults, or $150,000 for a couple.

February 2021

Current public investments in child care still leave a huge gap between what parents can afford and the actual cost of quality care. Only 12 percent of Iowa children aged 0-5 in families with low incomes have access to quality care, according to Child Care Aware of America. Getting more children into CCA is the first, best way to help families afford child care.

July 2020

Even during better times, many working families with young children were pushed to the brink to afford quality, reliable child care, and many providers struggled to make ends meet. In tough times like these, the system is simply overwhelmed. 

February 2020

The Child and Family Policy Center and Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children surveyed Iowa child-care owners, directors and home providers on the financial consequences of participating in the Child Care Assistance program. The responses were stark. 

January 2020 | Peter Fisher and Natalie Veldhouse

Half the jobs in Iowa pay less than what single-parent families need to meet a basic needs budget, and even childless couples and single individuals, as well as married couples with children, need well above the minimum wage. In the second installment of this year's The Cost of Living in Iowa, we focus on a set of “work support” policies that help low-wage working families survive and keep their children out of poverty, and that provide a stepping stone to a better education and a better job. 

September 2019 | Peter S. Fisher and Natalie Veldhouse

This seventh edition of The Cost of Living in Iowa includes basic family budgets for 10 family types and the living wage for each family type:  the hourly wage that would provide after-tax income sufficient to meet basic needs for a full-time worker. 

Racial equity

October 2019 | Colin Gordon

A half-century removed from the high-tide of the civil rights movement, progress on racial equity has slowed or stalled on many fronts. Nowhere is this more starkly evident than in the twelve states of the Midwest region, where racial disparities in economic opportunity and economic outcomes are wider than they are in other regions, and policy interventions designed to close those gaps are meager

State budget and taxes

April 29, 2021

While hundreds of thousands of Iowans probably have spent some of their $1,400 stimulus checks by now, the state of Iowa is still waiting for a much bigger check. The state will soon receive about $700 million in federal relief funds under the American Rescue Plan Act, the first half of the $1.38 billion expected in total. While state legislators debate budget decisions — $1 million more for this program, $12 million less for that one — it is amazing there has been little discussion about how that $700 million should be used.

April 27, 2021

The Iowa House released its the Health and Human Services budget bill late last week, and it charts a far a better path for our state than the Senate HHS budget proposal released earlier in the month. 

April 15, 2021

As the Legislature continues to debate tax changes, little attention has been paid to a new property tax credit provided in the so-called “tax omnibus bill,” Senate File 587, which recently passed the Iowa Senate. This new credit for lower income elderly homeowners has significant problems. Iowa already has an Elderly and Disabled Property Tax Credit that has been functioning well for decades. It applies both to homeowners and to renters; for renters, 23 percent of rent is assumed to go for property taxes. The credit is equal to a portion of the first $1,000 in property taxes paid, starting at 100 percent and declining to 25 percent as income increases. The credit phases out at about $24,000 income. Both portions of the credit are entirely funded by the state.

April 13, 2021

Legislation is advancing in both houses of the Legislature that — already costly, as well as shaky on principles of sound tax policy — could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief and recovery funding.

April 6, 2021

While many tax proposals still alive in the 2021 legislative session are costly, Senate File 587 compounds those problems with funding promises that the bill itself shows may not last. At stake are not only revenues for state and local services, but a big share of aid from the federal COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act.

The American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Biden earlier this month is a historic opportunity for Iowa to invest in a just economic recovery from COVID-19. It holds the promise of leaving our communities better off than they were before.

But Iowa lawmakers are putting a significant share of Iowa’s allotment of state aid at risk with a series of tax bills that would reduce the revenue for public services like education and public health — and run afoul of guardrails that ensure states invest the federal dollars in the families, businesses, and communities most harmed by COVID-19.

March 9, 2021 | Mike Owen

Senate Study Bill 1250 combines two concepts that are terribly costly at a time Iowa cannot afford them. The two principal features, together, come at a cost over a quarter-billion dollars in FY 2024.

March 2021

File 576 was already a terribly costly tax bill that Iowa cannot afford. Now, it appears to be twice as costly as assumed — jeopardizing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds otherwise allocated to Iowa from the federal COVID relief package, the American Rescue Plan.

January 2021

Iowa already has generous exemptions on inheritance tax. Lawmakers should not rush into a repeal that would cut $89 million from services for all Iowans in its first year. 

July 2020

Congress is right now negotiating what leaders say will be the last coronavirus relief bill before the end of the year. Members should act now to pass a robust and comprehensive relief package to address the unprecedented crisis we’re facing. 

May 2020 | Peter Fisher

Reserves, existing federal aid will not cover projected revenue shortfalls 

February 2020 | Peter Fisher and David Osterberg

Voters would get much less of what they wanted — and extras they did not seek.

Report | Tax Increment Financing in Polk County

March 2012

There are wide variations in the use of tax-increment financing around the state. Some cities have used the tool judiciously — others, not so much, diverting revenues from other jurisdictions long after a designated project is complete. This divergence of practice is illustrated well in Polk County.

PK-12 education

February 2, 2021

Iowa’s system of free universal public education does more than prepare students for the future. It also brings communities together. One tool to assure this is the authority of locally elected school boards to implement Voluntary Diversity Plans, which permit a school district to deny open-enrollment exits that would jeopardize the ability of the public school to provide quality learning opportunities for all its students. Gutting local Diversity Plans is a serious blow to the goal of assuring quality educational opportunity to every child. 

January 2021

By taking money from public schools to pay tuition at private schools and loosening open enrollment rules, Governor Reynolds’ proposal, SF 159, would deprive neighborhood public schools, and the communities that depend on them, of resources students need to learn and succeed.

Air, water and climate

April 15, 2021

Iowa passed our bottle and can redemption law in 1978. Since then we pay 5 cents each time we buy a can of beer or bottle of Coke and get the nickel back when we return the container to the place we bought it. States surrounding Iowa take no such action to reduce roadside litter and boost recycling efforts. Out here on the edge of the prairie one can feel our policy is out of step — which means Iowa actually is ahead of the game. In 2010, 38 countries in the world and 10 U.S. states and Guam had bottle and can redemption laws. The same number of programs remain in the United States but now 58 countries have bottle bills.

February 2021 | David Osterberg

In 2012, Iowa established its own investment tax credit for solar energy for residences and businesses. Because of its success, the law needs a few changes. The strong demand for local solar power has led to a backlog, with homeowners and businesses waiting longer for what they were promised. HF 221 would meet the promise of a successful program.

December 2020 | David Osterberg

Closing a nuclear reactor that produces electricity without adding to the grave problem of global warming is a problem for environmental activists who have not always embraced nuclear energy.

Jobs and labor

February 2021

Moving to $15 an hour by 2025, through either a state or federal boost in the minimum wage, would boost the earnings of 463,000 Iowa workers — about 30 percent of the state’s work force — and their families.

September 2020 | Colin Gordon

The pace and scale of job losses fell heavily on low-wage workers, and the risk of staying on the job fell disproportionately on women and workers of color. 

September 2020 | Peter Fisher

New independent businesses are the major source of net job growth. This reality calls for a shift in policy away from incentives to attract branch plants and out-of-state businesses, towards investments in education, research, work supports, entrepreneurial education, and quality of life.

About CGI

December 2020

Public policy is where our state’s values live and breathe. Common Good Iowa informs smart policymaking to turn Iowa values — pragmatism, fairness, empathy and accountability — into concrete solutions that advance opportunity for all Iowans.

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