Leading Iowa research centers merge

Two of Iowa’s best resources for public policy research have merged, the institutions announced on August 6. The Child and Family Policy Center and the Iowa Policy Project are building “on a collective 50 years of experience” and will be known as Common Good Iowa.

Look to Common Good Iowa for the rock-solid research, rigorous policy analysis and focused advocacy that Iowans have come to expect from CFPC and IPP, and for a new, invigorated approach to advance a bold policy agenda advancing equity and effective policy in four areas:

• Well-being of children and families, especially those failed by our current systems

• Adequate and equitably raised revenue to support strong public structures

• Workplace fairness and living wages for all Iowans

• Clean air, water and sustainable energy for a healthy future for all

Common Good Iowa will maintain offices in Des Moines and Iowa City, according to a news released I’ve enclosed below.

The two organizations have long collaborated on research published under the banner of the Iowa Fiscal Partnership. Some of their “greatest hits”:

  • COVID metrics arbitrary, backward facing (April 2020) Critique of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s “matrix” that was supposed to inform decisions on COVID-19 mitigation policies;
  • Tax plan harms most seniors (March 2020) Analysis of Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposed tax shift, which the legislature did not pursue due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Bad trend: Tuition share doubles (October 2019) Highlights from a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, showing “Iowa ranks poorly in keeping up public investment in higher education”;
  • Tax plan facts vs. spin (May 2018) Report showing the Republican plan to change state taxes “means less revenue, greater inequity favoring the wealthy, while missing the mark on promised reforms for simplification and middle class”;
  • AHCA would hit Iowa hard (June 2017) Analysis of the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, which had recently cleared the U.S. House of Representatives;
  • Connecting the dots: Tax breaks and school funding (November 2016) “Iowa’s revenue shortfall largely self-inflicted — education, other priorities suffer”;
  • Income, Poverty and Health Coverage (September 2016) Review of census data shows “Persistent poverty, stagnant income remain the norm for Iowans”;
  • Iowa’s problem of priorities (March 2015) An under-covered story of Iowa politics in the 2010s: “Tax cuts have consequences. In the case of the massive commercial property tax cut enacted two years ago, those consequences have become all too real.”
  • August 6 news release:

    DES MOINES, Iowa — Two established nonpartisan policy organizations today announced their merger as a new organization, Common Good Iowa, to provide policy analysis and advocacy across a wide spectrum of issues.

    Like the former organizations, the Child and Family Policy Center and Iowa Policy Project, Common Good Iowa advances equity, opportunity and sustainability in the following policy areas:

    • Well-being of children and families, especially those failed by our current systems.
    • Fiscal policy that adequately and equitably raises revenue to support strong public services.
    • Workplace protection and fairness, and living wages for all Iowans.
    • Clean air and water, and sustainable energy choices for Iowa’s future.

    By joining together, the organizations’ leaders believe they can leverage their existing networks and skills more efficiently and have a stronger, more visible presence to advance an agenda.

    “It’s an absolutely critical time to reimagine our work. This moment calls for bolder, smarter, coordinated advocacy for policies that advance opportunity for every Iowan,” said Anne Discher, executive director of Common Good Iowa. She has been executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center in Des Moines.

    “Common Good Iowa will build on a combined half-century of rock-solid, independently produced research, analysis and adequacy to move positive policy choices for all Iowans,” said Mike Owen, deputy director of the new organization. He had been executive director of IPP since 2013.

    All staff from both organizations will remain with Common Good Iowa, which will be headquartered in Des Moines but retain the Iowa City office that formerly housed IPP. The initial board of directors is drawn from both CFPC and IPP but will include new members.

    “This is exciting for all Iowans who care about equity, opportunity and the future of our state. Advocates, policy makers and individual Iowans are all looking for facts and fact-based perspectives to better inform decision making,” said Lois Buntz, president of Common Good Iowa’s board of directors.

    Vice President Janet Carl said the name Common Good Iowa, along with the decision to merge and the development of the organization’s structure, came after months of deliberation and discussion by board and staff members of IPP and CFPC.

    “The name ‘Common Good Iowa’ turned out to be a perfect fit for this new venture, because it reflects the purpose behind all both organizations have done separately,” Carl said. “The concept demands public policies, systems, structures and institutions that will benefit all residents of the state.”

    Discher noted the combined effort will include focusing on not only the economic equity issues that both IPP and CFPC have raised in the past, in such areas as wages and tax policy impacts, but also race equity issues in a state where these have often been overlooked.

    “Our work is about improving the lives of all Iowans. We can’t meet that goal that without explicitly promoting anti-racist policies in our state. The persistent inequities experienced by Black, Latinx, Asian, Native and other marginalized groups need fixing now,” Discher said.

    While the merger is complete for the organization, the coming weeks and months will produce more information, as well as a website and social media channels.

    In the meantime, Common Good Iowa work will be published on both the Iowa Policy Project and Child and Family Policy Center websites, iowapolicyproject.org, cfpciowa.org, and the Iowa Policy Points blog, iowapolicypoints.org. Staff may be reached at their previous email accounts during this transition.

    • Congratulations to both organizations!

      And congratulations to Common Good Iowa. I’ve read some of the previous good research, especially on environmental issues, and really look forward to seeing what will happen in the future.

      I also hope and assume that future environmental research will continue to be inclusive. One reason Iowa’s water is so bad (and nitrogen pollution is getting worse, in spite of desperate efforts to spin the story otherwise) is because we as a state don’t acknowledge the direct connections between clean water and healthy soil, native biodiversity, good land use policies, etc. We need insightful research that makes connections because someday, we will have a state government that pays attention. The current regime won’t last forever.

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