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District 72 Update Rep. Dean Fisher

June 1, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
The legislature has completed its work and adjourned for the year on May 5. The final days of the session were filled with debate on complex budget bills and the tax reform bill. Also, on Friday, May 4 I had the honor and privilege to attend Governor Reynolds signing ceremony for Senate File 359, a bill that prohibits an abortion if a heartbeat is detected. I am thrilled that the Governor signed this bill and moved Iowa to the forefront in this fight to end this heinous practice The numerous bills that make up the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY2019) budget that begins July 1, 2018 and ends June 30, 2019 were of course a major part of our last week’s efforts. In total, the Legislature appropriated $7.48 billion from the General Fund, roughly $65 million below our statutory 99% expenditure limit of $7.56 billion. This budget is based on an estimate and the last few years have proven that this estimate can be off by a few percent. By appropriating roughly 2% below this estimate the state is left with a buffer against variations in the actual revenue as compared to the estimate. I continue to press for even lower spending levels in order to increase this buffer. The estimated ending balance for FY2019 is $166 million, and the emergency reserve fund balances will be full at $762 million, 10% of our adjusted revenue estimate. The state is in good financial condition in spite of our continuing sluggish agricultural economy, but we must be ever vigilant in controlling our spending. Senate File 2415 is the Education Appropriations budget, which I am a member of the subcommittee. This budget bill appropriates $912 million from the General Fund for the Department for the Blind, the College Student Aid Commission, the Department of Education, and the Board of Regents. Of particular note in this budget bill was an increase in the appropriation for the National Guard Educational Assistance program from $3.1 million last year to nearly $4.9 million in FY2019. This is to accommodate an anticipated increase in demand. Also of note is the appropriation of $600,000 for the Governor’s Future Ready Iowa legislation passed this year. These funds allow for the creation of a Summer Joint Enrollment Program to allow high school students to enroll in community college classes during the summer months under an agreement between the school district and the local community college. Senate File 2417 is the Tax reform bill that will be signed into law on May 30th by Governor Reynolds. Iowa’s tax code is outdated, overly complex, and boasts some of the highest income tax rates in the entire country. Due to tax reform at the national level, Iowans will pay $1.8 billion less in federal taxes in tax year 2018. However, due to the fact that Iowa has federal deductibility, unless the legislature acted this session, Iowans would pay additional state taxes totaling $107 million in tax year 2018 and grow to $153 million in tax year 2019. The Republicans in the Legislature felt strongly that this money should not be used to grow state government. Rather, it should be returned to the hard-working taxpayers of Iowa who deserve tax relief. The tax reform plan in SF 2417 will immediately provide significant relief to middle class families and small businesses, leaving more money in the pockets of Iowans by reducing income taxes by $400 million in 2019. The average Iowa taxpayer will see their income tax reduced by nearly 10%. The percentage of middle-class Iowans that will see their state income tax liability reduced is 93%. This tax plan is also fiscally responsible and sustainable for the long run by including revenue growth triggers to ensure the state can continue to fund key priorities like education, health care, and public safety. The plan dramatically simplifies Iowa’s complex tax code, saving Iowans time and money when preparing and filing their state taxes. Part of this simplification is the reduction of the income tax brackets to only four. These updates to Iowa’s tax code will improve our business climate, making Iowa more competitive and transparent. When coupled with Future Ready Iowa and other existing workforce initiatives, tax reform will make Iowa an attractive state for businesses to expand and grow. Additionally, the tax plan modernizes our tax code to ensure fairness for Main Street businesses in Iowa. Main Street businesses are put at an unfair disadvantage as our economy moves more towards internet sales and subscription services. Now is the time to eliminate this unfairness and modernize our tax system for the new economy. On a personal note, this newsletter is several weeks past the end of session, it’s been a busy spring. Immediately after session Vicki and I have enjoyed a vacation to visit her relatives in Washington state and of course we also did some sightseeing in this beautiful nation of ours. Since returning home we’ve been busy with our spring work around the farm, including starting a small Christmas Tree farm that should be ready for the first season of harvest in 2024. As always, please feel free to contact me at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov or 641-750-3594. Representative Dean Fisher House District 72
 
 

 

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