Iowa Republicans likely to oppose key element of governor's tax plan

Governor Kim Reynolds proposes eliminating federal deductibility as part of a broad tax reform plan, she revealed today during her first Condition of the State address to Iowa lawmakers. She’ll have to spend some political capital to get that idea through the legislature. In a plot twist, the fiercest opposition will come from members of her own party, including leaders of the House and Senate tax-writing committees.

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Five takeaways from the Iowa legislature's opening day in 2018

The Iowa House and Senate convened Monday with the usual big promises and platitudes about working together to build a better future for Iowans.

Behind the optimistic rhetoric, all signs point to another contentious legislative session. The opening day speeches by Republican and Democratic leaders, enclosed in full below, revealed almost no common ground about the focus of lawmakers’ work and no indication that the most important bills will incorporate Democratic ideas. My takeaways:

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Zach Wahls, Janice Weiner running in Iowa Senate district 37

Zach Wahls announced his candidacy today in Iowa Senate district 37, where Democratic State Senator Bob Dvorsky plans to retire at the end of 2018. Janice Weiner launched her campaign for the same seat earlier this week, but Wahls will be heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination.

Follow me after the jump for background on both candidates and the political landscape in this must-hold district for Democrats.

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Iowa Senate Ways & Means chair concealed role in drafting tax plan

“Not sure who the author is on this one,” State Senator Randy Feenstra wrote to me on December 15, about an hour after Bleeding Heartland had published a detailed memo from the Iowa Department of Revenue about numerous proposed tax cuts and sales tax expansions. The chair of the upper chamber’s Ways and Means Committee added, “small reductions, not sure who put this one together. However, thanks for sharing! Very grateful as I need to find out if this member is running rogue over the Senate plan.”

A week earlier, Feenstra had distributed the same document to all of his fellow Republican senators, describing it as “my idea of a tax plan” and “one of my final runs that I have had the DOR work on.”

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Iowans not happy with mental health, Medicaid, school funding, taxes

Clear majorities of Iowans disapprove of how the state legislature and executive branch are handling mental health care, Medicaid, education funding, and taxes, according to the latest statewide survey by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom.

Even worse for Republicans: more than 70 percent of respondents said each of those issues would be a “major consideration when you choose how you will vote in the 2018 election.”

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Exclusive: First look at a costly, regressive Iowa Republican tax plan

Iowa Republican senators are considering a proposal to reduce individual and corporate tax rates and eventually phase out the state’s already-limited inheritance tax. The plan would increase revenue by making more goods and services subject to the sales tax, but those provisions would be difficult to move through the legislature, and even if enacted, would replace a small fraction of the money our cash-strapped state stands to lose from the tax cuts.

Governor Kim Reynolds told journalists this week she won’t reveal specifics about her tax plan–a top priority for 2018–until she delivers her Condition of the State address on January 9. She indicated she is waiting to see how Congress amends the federal tax code.

However, Senate GOP lawmakers and staff have received a detailed set of proposals for review. Bleeding Heartland obtained a lengthy memo describing “the tax reform plan prepared for the Governor’s Office” and estimating the fiscal impact of those changes. As with pending GOP legislation at the federal level, the largest benefits would flow to the wealthiest Iowans.

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