The Capitol Report by Sen. Rich Taylor
A legislative update from Sen. Rich Taylor, representing Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties.
During the holidays, Iowans give back and help those in need. This year, the Legislature encouraged charitable giving by increasing tax credits for donations to the community foundations and providing $1 million for Iowa food banks.
Those measures won’t be enough, however, unless we see more board-based economic growth. Even though the worst of the national recession is over, many of our families, friends and neighbors continue to struggle.
According to the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, this uneven recovery has increased the gap between the very well off and just about everyone else.
A shrinking middle class would be bad news for Iowa, a state with many small businesses and communities.
This year, the Legislature took a comprehensive approach to strengthening and growing Iowa’s middle class by:
• Investing in education. We fought for and won two years of significant increases to help K-12 students get the best start possible. To boost student achievement, we are keeping class sizes small for young learners, raising standards, improving teaching and encouraging innovation. We also froze in-state university tuition for the first time in 30 years, so all Iowans can pursue the opportunities that lead to good careers.
• Cutting taxes. We cut property taxes, with special emphasis on helping our small local businesses the most. Working families who pay the largest percentage of their income in taxes will get a boost from an increase in the state Earned Income Tax Credit.
• Creating good local jobs and training Iowans to fill them. The landmark, bipartisan investments made this year by the Legislature are helping Iowans improve their skills and their family’s prospects while at the same time expanding Iowa businesses and easing shortages of skilled workers.
• Expanding access to affordable health care and mental health services for all Iowans, whether they live in the city or rural communities. With new health care security, medical bills will be much less likely to force middle-class Iowans into foreclosure and bankruptcy.
If middle-class Iowans can’t make ends meet, all Iowans will be in trouble. This year’s investments can make a real difference, but there is more we can do to grow Iowa’s middle class. Finding those solutions will be at the top of our agenda for the next legislative session, which starts January 13.
Sen. Taylor is vice-chair of the Agriculture Committee. He also serves on the Economic Growth, Judiciary, Local Government and Transportation committees, as well as the Justice Systems Budget Subcommittee.
To contact Taylor during session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at home at 319-931-1568. E-mail him at email@example.com.