There have been a number of initiatives put forward by both the Iowa Legislature and Governor Kim Reynolds addressing topics that they have been made aware of during campaigns and visits across the state. Now the Governor is pushing for a bill known as the Invest in Iowa Initiative. This measure is a comprehensive bill that addresses a number of areas.
It reduces state income taxes but adds funding to natural resources and outdoor recreation. The state has a number of camping locations and tourist attractions. The goal is to enhance these locations while improving quality. It adds funding to the nutrient reduction strategy which improves water quality. The combination of improving water quality and outdoor activity is very important to local business and state park sites.
It also shifts funding from county property taxes to state-funded taxes for mental health programs for adults and children. Currently, counties are wrangling with the money they must levy to pay for mental health services. some counties such as Winnebago feel that they get less in service then what they contribute to the mental health region they belong to. The county currently pays out over $290,000 in property taxes to the region. With the new measure, that would go down significantly according to Reynolds.
It adds funding to combat substance abuse which ultimately can lead to mental health issues. Currently, the Winnebago County Task Force along with other county initiatives are striving to get awareness among students concerning substance abuse. The Task Force in Winnebago County works directly with the three county school districts in this initiative. These county programs are always looking for help in curtailing substance abuse among teens and elementary-aged students. Substance abuse at these levels can lead to mental illness and issues at a later age.
The program is very large, but Governor Reynolds wants to make Iowa more competitive with lower tax rates. Right now, Iowa is the 42nd worst state in the nation for taxation levels. With the new initiative, this would elevate Iowa into the lower 20’s in ranking against other states. It would also look at what is successful in generating better water quality in the state.
Governor Reynolds sat down with KIOW/KHAM News Director A. J. Taylor to give an overview of the measure and to encourage local residents to speak with their state legislators about passing the bill in our Sunday Talk.