Lawmakers are in the third week of overtime at the Iowa capitol. Late on Friday afternoon, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she and the House and Senate had reached a tax cut deal. It came on the heels of new information regarding sexual harassment at the Iowa Finance Authority.
The tax cut plan has elements of the various tax cut plans that have been discussed. The plan cuts individual income taxes right away and does it later for small business taxes and corporate taxes. There are triggers so the cuts don’t go into effect unless state revenues are growing by 3.5 percent to 4 percent. “An estimated $400 million in cuts to personal income tax,” Russell says. “But the plan also raises some sales taxes and includes some windfalls to the state treasury from federal tax cuts.”
Minority Democrats say it’s a tax giveaway for the wealthy. It’s too early to have any kind of an assessment on the plan from the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. Democrats say it will inevitably take money away from needed state services.
Gov. Reynolds says there will be an investigation into sexual harassment at the Iowa Finance Authority. A letter was released last week from a state employee describing years of overt sexual harassment at IFA. This ultimately led to the firing of former IFA Director Dave Jamison. The following day Gov. Reynolds implied Jamison was already fired and that was enough. “By the end of the day the governor announced she would hire an outside investigator to investigate the agency,” Russell says. "Specifically whether other employees responded appropriately to what was clearly egregious harassment.”
The Iowa House pulled an all-nighter debating a controversial bill governing Iowa utilities, now it’s up to the Senate. Consumer advocates say it will make it easier for the Utilities Board to approve rate increases. One of the most controversial parts has to do with energy efficiency programs that have been in effect in Iowa for a long time.