Bob Kressig Newsletter January 19, 2023

Bob Kressig Newsletter
Greetings to you all,
 
Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which I celebrated by attending a banquet Sunday in Waterloo, which has been a fundamental event of the community for more than 40 years. This year’s theme was “The challenges of living the dream in times like these” and it was hosted by Social Action Inc. This was their first in person banquet coming back from COVID and I was delighted to listen to Belinda Creighton-Smith speak, an Instructor at UNI, specializing in Social Work.


 
Monday, I attended the Northeast Iowa Food Bank’s yearly “Pack the Dome” event, where volunteers gathered to pack backpacks full of food, for those in the community who struggle with hunger. This year, over 80,000 bags were packed and nearly 2,500 volunteers helped out. In Iowa, 1 in 9 children face hunger, so events like these are very important to the community.


 
Tuesday was also the public hearing on the School Vouchers bill which will soon be coming up for debate in the Iowa house. At the public hearing, there was a census taken from the crowd with a 73% disapproval rate of the bill and only a 27% approval rating.
 
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:

  • Iowans Speak Out Against Voucher Bill.
  • Small Businesses Across Iowa and the US Remain Strong.
  • Vouchers, Corporate Tax Cuts Top Priorities in Governor’s Budget.
  • Recognizing Iowa Veterans at the Statehouse.

Please share your comments with me.
 
Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.
 
Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
 


Upcoming Community Events
 
Jan18 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Illinois State
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849
 
Jan 19 Freedom’s Daughters | Gallery Talk & Reception
Waterloo Center for the Arts, 5:30pm, 319-291-4490
 
Jan 19 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Valparaiso
McLeod Center, 6pm, 319-273-4849
 
Jan 20 UNI Men’s & Women’s Track Jack Jennett Open
UNI-Dome, 10am, 319-273-4849
 
Jan 20-21 The Pinballs
Waterloo Community Playhouse, Fri 7pm, Sat 2pm, 319-291-4494
 
Jan 21 Iowa Games Fat Bike Race
George Wyth Lodge, 1pm, 319-266-5979
 
Jan 21 The Gift | Cherie Post Dargan Book Talk
Hearst Center for the Arts, 2pm, 319-273-8641
 
Jan 21 UNI Women’s Basketball vs University of Illinois Chicago
McLeod Center, 2pm, 319-273-4849
 
Jan 21 Jazz at the Black Hawk: Bob Washut & Mike Conrad
Black Hawk Hotel, 7:30pm, 319-277-1161
 
Jan 25 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Valparaiso
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849
 
Jan27-29 Iowa Boat, RV & Vacation Show
UNI-Dome, Fri 3pm, Sat & Sun 10am, 319-290-1996
 
Jan 28 UNI Wrestling vs Oklahoma State
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849
 
Jan 29 Double Whammy Iowa Games & UNAA Ninja Warrior Competition
Ninja\U, 8am, 319-224-0836


Iowans Speak Out Against Voucher Bill
Kids in Rural Areas Lose Out with No Options
 
At a public hearing on Tuesday, Iowans told state lawmakers this week that they are strongly opposed to the Governor’s voucher bill that shifts money from public schools to private schools instead. Over 1,600 Iowans participated in the hearing and 73 percent of them were opposed to vouchers.
 
A majority of Iowans are expressing valid concerns that the voucher plan is fundamentally unfair to most Iowa kids. This is especially true in rural areas, as 75 percent of public schools are in rural areas without any access to private schools.
 
Others are outlining concerns that private school vouchers don’t benefit every Iowa kid equally. Public schools accept all kids regardless of zip code, while private schools are allowed to pick only the kids they want.
 
This year, the Governor’s voucher plan was expanded to send funding to wealthy kids and families already attending private schools. She removed all income limits – meaning millionaires in Des Moines will be receiving over $100,000 of public tax dollars to send their kids to private school.
 
While lawmakers are still waiting for the final estimates from the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal agency, the price tag for the first five-years of the voucher program is likely to be well over $1 billion.
 
The more Iowans learn about the voucher proposal, the more opposition there is to it. Since an overwhelming majority of Iowans believe that public money belongs in public schools, the Governor and Republicans are fast-tracking the bill through the Iowa Legislature before more Iowans have time to learn about it.
 
If you are an Iowan concerned about the impact vouchers will have on the kids in your local public school, legislators encourage you to make your voice heard as soon as possible. You can find lawmakers and contact them directly at: legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find. Or you can sign the petition by clicking on the graphic below and share with your friends and family.
 
With your help, we can stop vouchers.

        
 


Small Businesses Across Iowa and the US Remain Strong

In the last two years, 10.5 million applications for small businesses were received across the United States. Thanks to President Biden’s economic agenda, it’s been the greatest two years for new small business applications on record. 

In Iowa, there are over 270,000 small businesses in all corners of the state. Ninety-nine percent of all Iowa businesses are small businesses and employ 47.8 percent of the private sector workforce.
 
Assistance is always available for Iowa small businesses through two state-run programs. Iowa Source Link is a one-stop shop that connects small business owners with resources across the state. Entrepreneurs can receive help on how to start their business; including how to access funding, ways to navigate the market, as well as advising current business owners on how to grow their businesses. Iowa Source Link offers classes, resource guides, and networking opportunities. Resources can be found online, iasourcelink.com or by calling (866) 537-6052. 
 
For family businesses, the University of Northern Iowa offers the Family Business Center, which ensures family businesses survive and thrive. Only 13 percent of family owned businesses survive to the next generation. The center offers networking opportunities, succession planning, and a variety of other services aimed at growing and sustaining family businesses. More information can be found online, unifamilybusinesscenter.com.
 


Vouchers, Corporate Tax Cuts Top Priorities in Governor’s Budget

An analysis of the Governor’s budget proposal given to lawmakers last week found that top budget priorities include more tax handouts for the state’s largest corporations and over $100 million for a new voucher proposal.

The latest round of corporate tax giveaways, which already went into effect this year, is over 10 times what the Governor is recommending for mental health and disability services. The corporate tax handout is also double the amount Reynolds’ proposed for additional public school dollars next year.

The Governor’s largest spending program next year is to take public tax dollars from public schools and divert them to private schools through vouchers. The table below shows some of the Governor’s funding priorities for Fiscal Year 2024.

      
 


Recognizing Iowa Veterans at the Statehouse

As part of the annual Condition of the Guard speech given to the Iowa Legislature last week, the Adjutant General, Major General Benjamin Corell, spoke of the continued work of the Iowa National Guard.

The National Guard has over 9,000 service members. Out of those, more than 6,500 serve part-time while also attending school or working full time for other employers. In fact, more service members than ever before have used the Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship to help pay for college.

Throughout his speech, Major General Correll stressed the importance of recruiting and retaining National Guard members. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 had the lowest recruitment rate since 1973, the first year of an all-volunteer military. Young people serving in the military has fallen to its lowest level since 2007.

MG Corell concluded his speech by reiterating that the Iowa National Guard is strong and ready to rise to any challenge the nation or state faces in the future.

Veterans Day on the Hill

On Wednesday, veterans and their families traveled to Des Moines for Veterans Day at the Capitol.  Throughout the day, veterans met with legislators to discuss the priorities of the Veterans Commission.

The Veterans Commission is a group of representatives from various veterans’ organizations across Iowa who work collectively to develop and advance policy ideas to assist veterans and their families.

For the 2023 legislative session, the Veterans Commission will work to protect programs and agencies such as the Iowa Veterans Home, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, and the Military Home Ownership Program.
 


New Legislation Would Restrict Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing

Last week, the House majority introduced legislation that would restrict Iowa public agencies from investing in capital, based on retirement investor preferences for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.

In today’s business environment, asset managers are applying non-financial factors to help identify material risks and substantial growth opportunities that would maximize Iowans’ retirement funds. ESG metrics are not mandatory, though many companies choose to consider and disclose these factors in their annual reports.

Some ESG capital investment factors include:

  • Air and water pollution mitigation, energy efficiency, and water scarcity;
  • Customer satisfaction, wages and benefits, supply-chain management, data protection and privacy, employee engagement, and labor standards; and
  • Audit committee structure; executive bribery and corruption; oversight and compliance.

Republican state lawmakers across the nation are boosting efforts to prohibit state governments from doing business with companies that consider the above factors in their business model, which is estimated to cost states millions. Last year, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Texas proposed or passed legislation prohibiting state government entities from doing business with financial firms that use ESG when making investment decisions.
 
national study on limiting investment options estimated states could pay between an additional $264 and $708 million in interest payments. Additionally, Wharton School of Business found that after passing legislation restricting the market, Texas’ interest rates drastically increased as banks were forced out of state; and lending competition drastically decreased, which increased state taxpayer costs. Since January 2021, out-of-state corporate special interest groups have been coordinating with state lawmakers to propose anti-ESG
model legislation.
 
Currently, Iowa public entities and private businesses have the choice to invest in companies that consider some ESG factors when determining pension fund investments. Iowa House Democrats will continue to trust Iowa public employees with their investment preferences for retirement planning and not interfere with the free market. 
 


More Iowa News

NEW HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL REALIGNMENT APPROVED: Iowa high schools recently approved a proposed change to include socioeconomic factors in how football teams are classified, following a decision by the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control. Of the Iowa high schools that voted, 58 percent voted in favor for a proposed change, which brought it before the state board. The Iowa State Board of Education has now approved the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) recommendation that would realign the football classifications using a Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) factor. A similar formula is used in Minnesota – it uses a percentage reduction of the number of students on FRL to reduce the overall high school enrollment population. It then uses that new count to affect changes to the class classifications. This new rule only would apply to football and would NOT affect conference alignment, which in some conferences, have multiple classes.  The change will go into effect for the 2023-24 high school football season scheduled by the IHSAA.  It would affect all schools equally and be in effect for 2 years.  The proposal does NOT affect FRL eligibility or school lunches. Proponents of the change say recognizing that socioeconomic factors can have an impact on student-athletes, no matter the size of their school.
 

STATE RELEASES NEW INCOME TAX GUIDANCE: Several new income tax provisions go into effect for the 2023 tax year. For most Iowans that file individual income taxes, tax year begins on January 1. The changes to state tax guidance were needed because of significant tax reforms that were passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2018 and 2022. The Department of Revenue has updated their online guidance because of these changes that started at the beginning of the year. The changes include the beginning of significant cuts to the income tax rate most Iowans pay. Beginning this year, tax rates are cut for the highest earners in the state. The tax rates are then decreased from the highest income rates to the lowest income over the next four-years. Starting in Tax Year 2026, all individuals in the state will begin seeing a tax cut. Most forms of retirement income will no longer be taxed starting this year. Many of the changes more closely connect state income tax filing to federal filing. Specific guidance on the retirement income tax changes can be found at tax.iowa.gov/retirement-income-tax-guidance. A full list of the new guidance on filing taxes in the state can be found at tax.iowa.gov/2023-changes-iowa-individual-income-tax.
 

FEDERAL DEMOCRATS DELIVER MORE AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE: Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced record-breaking enrollment numbers for health care coverage on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace as the open enrollment deadline passed. Nearly 16 million people have signed up during the past open enrollment period for health coverage – a 13 percent increase over the last year – and three million people are brand new to the marketplaces this season. Because of the Inflation Reduction Act’s cost-saving measures, Iowans are continuing to save on average $800 per year on health insurance, and four out of five healthcare.gov enrollees may find coverage for $10 or less a month. Starting this month, seniors on Medicare will see their insulin costs capped at $35 for a month’s supply and have access to recommended vaccines for free due to this historic law. The Inflation Reduction Act passed last year on party lines with only Democrat support. Iowa House Democrats will continue to support legislation that expands affordable comprehensive healthcare and lowers costs for working Iowan families.

NEW CHARTER SCHOOL APPROVED AND SET TO OPEN IN DES MOINES: The Iowa State Board of Education has approved a charter school for the Horizon Science Academy in the Des Moines area. The school will be focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Their plan is to open for the 2023-24 school year and eventually grow into a full K-12 school. This is only the third charter school created under Iowa new Charter School law (HF 813 of 2021), and all three have used an independent founding group model. Those types of charter schools can be found anywhere in the state without oversight from a school board. Horizon will contract with Concept Schools, an Illinois nonprofit charter school management company. This will bring the total number of charter schools in Iowa to five with previously founded high school charter schools under Iowa’s old law. Those schools are the Storm Lake, Iowa Central, Buena Vista Early College Charter School affiliated with the Storm Lake School District, and the Northeast Iowa Charter School affiliated with the West Central Community School District.