Iowa can’t afford Governor Reynolds

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Her tax cut is just window dressing in an election year. You will pay more in increased property taxes thanks to her corporate welfare. She cut property taxes for corporations from 100% to 90%, then gave them a Business Property Tax Credit (BPTC) on top of that to lower their tax rate to equal the residential rollback. Multi-residential apartment complexes were lowered by 3.75% per year until in 2022 they are the same as individual property tax rates (approx. 60% rollback) while your individual property taxes rose from a 45% roll back to 55% and soon to be 60%. Your small income tax refund disappears with increased property taxes!

In 2017, she overdrew the checkbook three times and then cut crucial programs, educational funding, and state services by $118 million. The second and third time she was overdrawn she raided the state’s emergency and reserve funds for another $181 million!

Governor Reynolds’ corporate welfare is wrecking Iowa’s budget by redistributing taxes from Iowans to out of state businesses. Her regime is giving taxpayer funded checks to profitable corporations that pay few taxes. In partnership with Branstad, Reynolds’ Department of Economic Development has rewarded foreign companies with giant tax breaks to bring an incredibly small numbers of jobs.

Why should Iowa taxpayers continue to subsidize profitable companies rather than supporting Iowa education and basic government services? Reynolds must answer for her budget mismanagement and disastrous corporate welfare priorities.”

She also did not push to pass the extension of the one-cent sales tax last session (generates millions per year for schools) which allows schools to build without bond issues or again increasing your individual property taxes.  This  also allows everyone, not just property owners, to pay for school improvements.

It looks like she is secretly trying to eliminate IPERS (Senate File 45), one of the top pension programs in the nation for the past 65 years, and that will make it more difficult for Iowa to attract and retain quality workers.  IPERS is one of the best and most solid pension systems in the nation.  They are doing it to punish unions. It is payback. It is just like when Collective Bargaining was not discussed in any campaign prior to the 2016 election and then eliminated in 10 days when the GOP got total control. One GOP state representative told me, “what have unions done for the GOP?” 

Hmmm... educated your children, police protection, medical care, fire protection, plowed your roads, courthouse services, and the list goes on. This is about eliminating and punishing unions and not about what is best for Iowa’s workers or Iowa’s economy.

What has changed the Governor’s thinking from when she served on the IPERS board and as Lt. Governor? Here are some of her quotes regarding IPERS:

“As a defined benefit plan (pension) IPERS is secure, strong, and sustainable. Simply put, it’s good for Iowa. There is no better run public pension system in the state than IPERS. IPERS has been a strong public pension system that is efficiently managed and serves as a model for other states. Since 1953, IPERS has helped Iowa’s public employers attract and retain a quality workforce while IPERS benefit payments help Iowans and their communities.  IPERS is a powerful economic engine that helps create jobs, keeps retirees off public assistance, and provides security for all members. One in ten Iowans is an IPERS member. They are teachers, social workers, public nurses, firefighters and police, snowplow drivers, and many more who are dedicated to improving the lives of others.”

For the past nine months all she has said is “we will honor our commitments.” What about the new employees? If it ain’t broke, why is she trying to fix it? Look at the mess she made when she privatized Medicaid. Now she wants to do that to one of the best pension plans in the country. Why? Why are the Koch Brothers involved in making decisions regarding Iowa’s top rated pension plan that affects 355,000 members or 1 in 10 Iowans? Why was no one from the Democratic Party asked?  Why were the actuaries of IPERS not asked?  Why were 355,000 public employees not asked? Is it just so she and the GOP can eliminate IPERS and get rid of unions for good. It sure looks like that is the game plan because she has had all of 2018 to talk about it and she won’t! That is not good leadership. Where is the courage to talk to Iowans about this plan that was devised behind closed doors? Why do we want a mess like Wisconsin? Why does she think she, or the Koch Brothers, know more than the professional actuaries at IPERS? The actuaries at IPERS truly care about Iowans and their future.

She appointed Senate President Charles Schneider, who is not an IPERS supporter, to study IPERS. He hired the Koch Brothers funded Reason Foundation (non-pension supporters) to make recommendations. Some impartial study! She is following a Koch Brothers playbook and that is not in Iowa’s best interests.

Governor Reynolds said educational funding was the 4th best in the nation from 2008-2015. Wrong! Governor Reynolds says education funding increased 20.6% over those seven years. The Iowa Fiscal Partnership shows that the Supplemental State Aid (formerly the allowable growth) was just 1.11% in 2018, the second lowest in 15 years! The average over the last eight years is just 1.8%! An apples to apples comparison by the Iowa School Finance Information Services looking at formula funding for districts regular education funds for 2008-2015 also found just 4.91% in effective spending, not 20.6%, or only .7% per year!  That’s a 15.69% error, Governor. Let’s not inflate the numbers in an election year.

Other misdirections by Gov. Reynolds:

She posts Iowa teacher salaries are in the top 10 in the nation. She is using a bad statistic from EdBuild who use a proprietary index and Cost of Living (COL) index produced by Center for Community and Economic Research that has been proven unreliable. Comparing all states and starting teacher salaries with COL adjustment, Iowa ranks 21st, not top 10.  The reason Iowa’s teachers moved up on the list of teacher pay was a direct result of Collective Bargaining, which she and the GOP essentially eliminated in 2016!

Governor Reynolds says she supports schools and Iowa workers and has put glowing reports on Facebook, but in reality she has eliminated Collective Bargaining, is trying to eliminate IPERS, has offered some of the lowest funding ever for education, caused the University of Iowa to close centers and eliminate programs due to a  lack of funding, caused tuition to increase, is raising your individual property taxes to support corporate welfare, has a Medicaid disaster that is wasting taxpayer money but yet she still defends it. She is secretly trying to privatize IPERS after the Medicaid privatization disaster, refused to support education infrastructure (and lower property taxes) by not supporting the extension of the one cent sales tax, is talking about not backfilling the taxes lost by counties due to her corporate giveaways which will increase your individual property taxes again, uses a great deal of misdirection in her statements, and has little transparency as is evident with her silence on Senate File 45 and the Koch Brothers involvement. On top of all this over 50% of Iowa’s waterways are polluted, including at least one in every Iowa county.

She privatized Medicaid against all warnings, (another $344 million increase for next year), plus  “Iowa consistently ranks in the bottom five of all states in every single category of mental health programs and services,” said Iowa’s NAMI executive director in 2016. She hired the same guy that ran the Medicaid mess in Kansas, and now it is costing taxpayers millions. Furthermore, it raises the question of pay to play as she has taken donations from the companies who received the huge Medicaid contracts!

She won’t reappoint David Hudson, a critic of the state’s Medicaid privatization process, to Iowa’s Medical Assistance Advisory Council, where he has been its co-chairman. Why? The evidence suggests (and her spokeswoman hasn’t confirmed or denied) it was because he spoke up against companies that got state contracts, for cutting crucial services to his son and other Iowans with disabilities.

Quoting Rick Smith from an article in Starting Line in 2017; The first time they overdrew the checkbook, the Branstad-Reynolds regime chose to cut crucial programs, education funding and state services by $118 million. The second time, in March, the states’ checks were about to bounce again so they raided the states’ reserve funds for another $131 million. Finally, with barely one month left in the fiscal year Governor Reynolds made a second raid of $50 million on the states’ emergency funds in order to end the fiscal year in the black.

The Iowa Policy Project estimates that business tax credits will increase by 50% between 2011 and 2021. This Republican diversion of revenue from public to private pockets is out of control.

Her latest ad says Iowa families will pay $1,000 more if the tax cuts are eliminated.  Fist of all, Hubbell said paired back, not eliminated,  meaning paired back for wealthy corporations.  Another misdirection by Governor Reynolds. The average family saved $184 per year, not $1,000. Another misdirection. Most of her tax cut (46%) went to people making over $250,000 per year. On top of that, she added a sales tax for online goods so most of your savings is eaten up by the additional online sales tax, and if not by that, by her increase in individual property taxes due to the cut for corporations and large apartment complexes.  

In her latest ad, she claims to care about your paycheck.  At the same time she is rejecting a minimum wage hike. How hypocritical. Governor Reynolds cares about giant corporation money and the Koch Brothers money, not yours.

She is running one of the most negative races for Governor that this state has seen. Based upon her commercials you should vote for her because; 1. she poured coffee at Younkers and 2. she is not Fred Hubbell. Beyond that, she has said nothing.

She also quit having weekly news conferences. I wonder why?

JOHN BROSTAD

Storm Lake