This week was the eleventh week of the legislative session. Last week the Revenue Estimating Conference gave us the budget outlook so we can start preparing our budgets for the next fiscal year. Because of the pro-growth policies we have passed the last several years, Iowa has seen growth even through these last several months, and is predicted to see growth in the coming year. This is great news as we work towards tax relief for Iowans and their families.
The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget targets include a total budget of $7.999 billion. This is an increase of $195 million from the previous year, or 94% of our available revenue. Included in this budget is the elimination of the triggers passed in the 2018 tax bill, the phasing out of the inheritance tax, and over $100 million in significant property tax relief.
The main areas of increases for FY 2022 in our budget targets are an $80 million increase in education funding which includes an increase of $55.3 million for K-12 education and an increase of $25 million for higher education, including additional dollars for Last Dollar Scholarships. Health care funding rises by $98.1 million. This includes an increase of $15 million for provider increases for: nursing homes; home and community-based service providers; and an increase of $60 million for mental health services.
Farmers have long been telling us that mental health should not be paid with property taxes. SSB 1253 provides more state funding for mental health, simplifies the tax code and cuts property taxes by over $100 million. It provides $60 million for mental health the first year, $125 million the second year and ensures additional money in the future.
Protecting our right to keep and bear arms has generated more email than any other issue this year. HF 756 removes the requirement for a permit in order to carry a gun. It does not eliminate or reduce the amount of background checks for Iowans. It actually increases the ways to get your background check. Currently, Iowans can purchase a gun if they possess a permit to acquire or a permit to carry. We added to that the ability to use a national instant background check, which has updates much more recent than the date on a permit.
This bill also puts more guardrails around private sales of guns by stating sellers break the law if they knowingly or should have known if the person to whom they sold the gun was ineligible to purchase a firearm. It also created a crime of having a firearm on school grounds unless the person is a member of law enforcement or the firearm is unloaded or inaccessible.
The recent shootings are another demonstration that more restrictive gun laws do not reduce violence. Colorado has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but criminals don’t care about laws. Restricting law-abiding citizens’ constitutional rights helps no one.
I was asked to do an interview with a magazine reporter this past week to discuss the bill dealing with Big Tech Censorship. I reminded him of one of our country’s core principles espoused by Abraham Lincoln, “That government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” In other words, when we allow anyone, either government or a private entity, to control the information that the people receive, we no longer have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I see Big Tech influencing us on much more than elections. They are also controlling/limiting the information we receive about guns and vaccines and a host of other issues. It is time for the state to act to reign in the unchecked ability of Big Tech to censor legal speech. Stay informed, get involved, and stand ready to push back to protect our freedoms and liberties.
It will be almost Easter by the time many of you get to read this newsletter. I often think of 1 John 5:11&12 at this time.
“And the testimony is this that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the Life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the Life.”
Thank God for His sacrifice for those who acknowledge their own sin, repent and turn to Him!
My last forum for the year will be held on April 10 in Estherville at the Iowa Lakes Electric Coop headquarters at 1:00.