Taxes, teacher pay, AEA changes top issues of Iowa Legislature in ’24

Lawmakers sent the governor a bill to cut Iowans’ income taxes by $1 billion next year. They laid out the framework for an $8.9 billion state budget and then wrapped up the 2024 legislative session this weekend.

The session officially ended at 4:23 am on Saturday. During that last twenty-hour day, a bill was approved to introduce a single income tax rate of 3.8% next year. Governor Kim Reynolds suggested something similar, but slightly lower, in January. This weekend, Reynolds said she was proud to see tax cuts reduced and accelerated after the plan passed in 2022.

Lawmakers approved another Reynolds priority this year by requiring salaries for first-year teachers to be at least $50,000. Senate President Amy Sinclair of Allerton said these are the “standout achievements” of the 2024 legislative session.

“We passed bills this year that will put Iowa’s income tax rate at the sixth lowest in the country and beginning teacher salaries at the fifth highest, not even considering the cost of living,” Sinclair said. “And we all know that Iowa is a very cost-effective place to live.”

In January, Governor Reynolds also asked lawmakers to overhaul the state’s nine regional education agencies and signed a reorganization plan last month. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Pam Jochum of Dubuque said the changes centralize power in Des Moines. “Iowans will remember how Republicans chose to serve their governor instead of their constituents,” Jochum said at a news conference Friday evening. “They have cut our regional education agencies and placed special interests on Iowa’s children.”

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights said children with special needs will suffer. “I want to talk about mothers who are trying to figure out how to get the vocational or mental health therapy they need,” Konfrst said during a news conference late Friday night, “and we’re just getting started. Just imagine what will happen next year.”

House Speaker Pat Grassley, speaking to reporters after the House of Representatives adjourned early Saturday, said House Republicans “have done a lot of work: to make changes to the House’s original plan governor, to protect the AEA’s special education services while letting schools choose how to use the rest of the money that went directly to the AEAs for other services.

“Schools are happy to have some ability to have some flexibility with some of these funds,” Grassley said. “…The bill that we were able to create, I believe, will continue to contribute to these special education services.”

In the closing moments of the 2024 legislative session, Republicans voted to reassign Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents to work on cases related to the law Governor Reynolds signed to overhaul the justice system for Iowa immigrants who are in Iowa illegally. to be arrested and deported. Republican Rep. Taylor Collins of Mediapolis said there is $2 million in the budget for a dozen Criminal Investigations Division agents to support efforts “to address the increase in illegal immigration and related criminal behavior or as appropriated by the Ministry of Justice committee. Public safety.”

Early Saturday, the House of Representatives voted to ban state regulators from issuing new casino licenses until 2029, but the Senate suspended that without taking up the measure. It means Cedar Rapids will likely apply for a casino license when the current moratorium ends on July 1.