During week 10 of the 2023 legislative session, I was excited to have my daughter, Hannah, come visit the Capitol during her spring break from Hawkeye Community College. In previous years when she visited, dating back to 2017 when I was first elected to serve in the Senate, her interests were focused on the building itself. She still remarks how beautiful our State Capitol is. Over the years she has become more interested in what, why, and how we do our work in state government. Getting into policy is becoming a greater interest to her. To say I’m proud of my daughter is an understatement. She and many of her friends have much more interest in politics and policy than I did at her age.
According to the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference who met Friday, March 10, and the financial forensics they perform, Iowa’s economy remains strong and is generating higher state tax collections even as we continue to reduce taxes. Our goal is to continue putting more of your money back in your pockets to use as you see fit. If it is purchasing replacement windows for your home or a business owner updating equipment to be more efficient, you know best how to use your money.
The Revenue Estimating panel raised the revenue projection for the General Fund in FY23 to $9.7504 billion, which is a $135 million increase over their forecast made in December 2022. When compared to FY22, revenue would be down 0.5 percent due to the implementation of the tax cuts passed last year. Legislative Services Agency has projected that the tax cuts will return $575 million to Iowa taxpayers in FY23.
Iowa’s economy remains strong, as retail sales remain above pre-Pandemic levels. Employment figures in February surpassed the pre-Pandemic high. All three major sources of tax revenue – personal income tax, sales and use tax, and corporate income tax – are running higher than last year’s levels, even with implementation of the tax cut starting on January 1.
The positive impact of the tax cuts on Iowa’s economy is already being felt. According to the Iowa Department of Management, the average retiree in Iowa will have an additional $3,500 in their pockets this year thanks to the elimination of tax on pension income and the higher Social Security COLA. That’s a big help to seniors being hit hard by the persistent inflation continuing to grip the national economy.
This week the Iowa House of Representatives passed a piece of legislation that streamlines and realigns the state government of Iowa. It has been nearly 40 years since the organization of the state government was evaluated and restructured. During the last 40 years the number of cabinet level departments and agencies has grown to 37 agencies and within these agencies are many duplicative and redundant services.
To better manage the enterprise of State government, we are aligning functions and services that are similar. We are all consumers of government services in one way or another, and this realignment will bring government closer to the people. A significant change will be bringing all licensing and regulatory services into the newly named Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licenses (DIAL). Currently, the licensing and management of 136 professional licenses is overseen by 11 different state agencies. This change will consolidate the need to work through 11 state agencies to now working with 1 agency.
As a member of the State Government Committee, I was one of seven members, including both republicans and democrats, assigned to the subcommittee to review the legislation and speak with departments to ensure these policy changes would work. The subcommittee held six public meetings over two weeks. A 40-page amendment was adopted during the committee process to address concerns that were raised.
880 pages of the 1,513 page bill dealt with the merger of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health. This part of the realignment has been in the works for over a year. The remaining changes made in the bill are not changes to services provided to Iowans, but moving boards and oversight to more appropriate departments in a way to make efficient use of staffing and resources. Above all, the legislation aims to provide more streamlined access to government services for Iowans. The department mangers I interviewed were already proactively working towards what the legislation was putting into code.
Consolidating existing services from 37 agencies to 16 will better pool resources and provide stronger oversight to ensure the best service possible for Iowans. The legislation was an overdue measure to ensure that government is working for the taxpayers. This legislation brings government closer to the people.
To share your ideas with me please email me at email@example.com or come to one of the public forums. We appreciate thoughtful conversation.
- Saturday, March 18: 9:30 a.m. Farm Bureau Town Hall, Arlington Event Center
For 2023, I will serve as the vice chair of the Education Committee. I will also serve on the following committees: Labor and Workforce, State Government, Ways and Means.
Mailing Address: Craig Johnson, 1007 E Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319-1001