Water quality, health care, tax reform priorities for Gov. Reynolds in first state address01/09/2018 | Water Quality, Soybean News
By Aaron Putze, APR
Water quality, health care and tax reform, issues directly impacting the competitiveness of farmers, will be priorities for Iowa lawmakers pledged Gov. Kim Reynolds in her first Condition of the State Address delivered Tuesday.
Speaking before a packed statehouse chamber, Reynolds keyed in on the themes of opportunity and bipartisanship while advancing a pro-business agenda. The importance of strong rural communities and farm families was touted several times. So, too, was the need for the state to prioritize needs and spending.
While she assured Iowans the condition of the state is strong, Iowa’s 43rd governor said there’s plenty of work to do as the Iowa legislature convenes its 2018 session.
At the top of the list is increased funding for improved water quality.
“Urban and rural stakeholders have worked collaboratively and made great strides” in addressing the goal shared by all Iowans, Reynolds said. “My hope is that a water quality bill is the first piece of legislation I sign as governor.
“Let me assure you,” she added, “that passage of this monumental legislation does not mean water quality discussion is over. Rather, it ignites the conversation to implement and scale practices that will continue to make an impact on water quality.”
The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) took note of the water quality reference. The association has been actively engaged on the issue because of its commitment to funding and conducting in-field research on thousands of acres involving hundreds of farmers.
Knowledge gained from nearly two decades of work and investment underscores the association’s continued call for a “watershed approach” to tackling the bipartisan goal of improving water and soil quality, says ISA Environmental Programs and Services Director Roger Wolf.
“Increased funding is just one piece of a much larger effort,” he said. “Watershed planning and implementation follow a simple philosophy: plan the work, work the plan.
“In addition to state funding, real and long-term improvements in water quality will require the shared involvement of rural and urban stakeholders and identifying and unleashing new sources of financing above and beyond what the state can provide.”
Wolf said the ISA and soybean farmers will continue to press the merits of the watershed approach to the governor and lawmakers.
“There’s no shortcut to success on an issue this complex,” he added. “If we’re truly serious about long-term and measurable improvement and accountability on water quality, then the watershed approach must be part of the discussion and implementation.”
Health and taxes
A healthy environment depends on healthy Iowans, Reynolds said. Rising health care costs experienced by farmers, families and businesses are an impediment to Iowa making progress on critical issues and will be a focus of the Reynolds Administration.
While continuing to urge Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Reynolds will press for legislation giving Iowa farmers, small business owners and their workers access to affordable insurance.
She also seeks to renew Iowa’s rural communities by expanding access to the internet and other online services.
An initiative led by Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg will promote investments to expand broadband capabilities in every corner of the state.
“Our goal,” she added, “is to keep and bring home Iowa’s sons and daughters and grow the next generation of community leaders.”
Rural Iowa’s renewal will also require families and small business owners keeping more of what they earn.
Reynolds said historic tax reform passed last month by Congress will benefit Iowans. But the impact will be diluted due to an outdated provision in Iowa’s tax code allowing taxpayers to deduct federal taxes.
“While that may sound like a good thing, it’s not,” she explained. “With federal deductibility in place, when the federal government cuts taxes for working-class families, Iowa raises taxes on those same families. When the federal government cuts taxes for farmers and small business, Iowa raises taxes on those same families.
“That’s not just a hypothetical. It’s what will happen if we don’t act.”
Reynolds will propose reforming Iowa’s tax code to eliminate federal deductibility and reduce rates.
“This is an opportunity to free us from decisions made in Washington, D.C., and simplify our tax code,” she added. “And, more important, Iowans will keep more of their hard-earned money.”
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