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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Iowa lawmakers' $2 billion tax cuts put services 'at risk'

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Monday, May 20, 2024   

The latest state tax cuts are expected to cost Iowa more than $2 billion in revenue over the next two years. Advocates for tax fairness argued lawmakers are not considering the long-term consequences of the cuts on schools, workers, and livability.

In the face of a dwindling population and shrinking tax base, Iowa lawmakers doubled down on tax cuts this year, and also passed a measure calling for a constitutional amendment to require any state income tax to be a single rate.

Anne Discher, executive director of Common Good Iowa, said lawmakers chose to cut taxes despite the state's growing economic demands like funding Educational Savings Accounts, which allow parents to use public education dollars to pay for private school.

"I understand that in a vacuum, tax cuts can sound pretty good to folks," Discher acknowledged. "But when you really have a serious conversation about trade-offs, the popularity of tax cuts is a lot less clear-cut."

Lawmakers also passed a cluster of bills to accelerate cuts in the state income tax rate from 3.9% to 3.8%, which Discher argued will have long-term economic effects. Supporters of the tax cut measures, including Gov. Kim Reynolds, have promised more fiscal austerity.

The deeper tax cuts mean an average reduction of about $6 to someone in the bottom 20% of the income bracket, $402 for the middle 20%, and more than $20,000 for someone making more than $1.5 million a year. Lawmakers said they plan to cover the tax cuts with Iowa's budget surplus, which Discher called shortsighted.

"The moment in which that's really going to impact services can be pushed out, right?" Discher noted. "But the thing about surpluses is they are one-time money, and you can't count on them in the long run. And so, when the surpluses are gone, we're going to be looking at a level of tax cuts that are really going to put a lot of important services at risk."

Discher contends implementing a flat-rate income tax would be regressive and hurt lower-income Iowans most. Supporters counter it would be more fair and efficient.


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