Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans President Mike McCarthy (retired AFSCME), Vice President Kay Pence (retired CWA), Secretary Jan Corderman (retired AFSCME), and Treasurer Ken Sagar (retired IBEW and Iowa AFL-CIO President Emeritus) co-authored this commentary.
The Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans is alarmed by Governor Kim Reynolds' vision for Iowa. Iowa seniors value a strong economy where our families can live and thrive. From tax cuts to undermining our schools and our future ability to fund public needs, her vision is out of focus.
A strong economy needs a strong infrastructure, but under six years of Republican leadership, Iowa has earned the dubious distinction as either worst or second-worst in the nation for deficient bridges, depending on if you are talking about number or percentage.
Our schools were once the envy of the nation. Instead of continuing the commitment to strengthen our public school system, our governor is abandoning the public school system by trying to redirect public money to private schools.
Our governor readily took credit for the current budget surplus without acknowledging the Biden administration’s efforts. Thanks to the federal government's direct aid to citizens, states, and local governments, most states had a budget surplus last year.
One notable exception is our neighbor to the east. Illinois has a flat income tax rate of 4.95 percent, which does not raise enough revenue to support the services Illinois citizens demand. Our governor is proposing to follow Illinois’ lead with a flat tax of 4 percent, while glossing over the likely increases in sales and property taxes that would follow.
The Alliance for Retired Americans believes taxes should be progressive, should be based on the ability to pay, and should not depend on income source. Income is income. Currently Iowa’s lowest tax rate is 0.33 percent for taxable annual income above $1,676. The tax rate on income above $75,420 is 8.53 percent.
Is it fair to increase the tax rate of those least able to pay to give a tax cut to those more well off? Is it fair to exempt various kinds of income from any taxes at all?
While cuts to taxes on pensions, 401k distribution, and cash rent for retired farmers would help seniors, just because a person is retired does not equate to being needy. Seniors who are not fortunate enough to have pension income and works to supplement their meager Social Security check could face a big tax hike. Is that fair?
Our state once had a reputation for being “Iowa Nice.” The governor's proposals make a mockery of that moniker.