Choose better measures to look
at how states’ taxes compare

Once again, Tax Foundation rankings
bear little resemblence to taxes paid

Businesses pay less tax in Iowa than 4 out of 5 states. So why does the Tax Foundation keep portraying the state in a bad light? IPP’s Peter Fisher puts a spotlight on problems with the Tax Foundation's annual rankings of a so-called "business climate."

See Grading the States Oct. 25, 2019

Tuition doubles in 30 years
New national report confirms trends;
Iowa ranks poorly in nation and region

Iowa is among nine states that rank in the dozen worst on two higher education funding measures from 2008 to 2018: percentage drop in state spending per student (28.1 percent), and dollar drop in state spending per student ($2,505).

Iowa news release Oct. 24, 2019
CBPP report

Iowa Jobs: Jobs steady in October
Zero-growth October after six gains;
monthly average gain only 300 in 2019

Iowa payroll jobs held steady in October while the unemployment rate ticked up to 2.6 percent with more people entering the labor force.

Iowa JobWatch report Nov. 21, 2019

Race in the Heartland
Equity, opportunity, policy challenges
in Iowa and Midwestern states

A half-century removed from the high-tide of the civil rights movement, progress on racial equity has slowed or stalled on many fronts. Nowhere is this more starkly evident than in the 12 states of the Midwest region, where racial disparities in economic opportunity and economic outcomes are wider than they are in other regions, and policy interventions designed to close those gaps are meager.

Full report by Colin Gordon Oct. 10, 2019
News release or PDF

Iowans Working Hard, Falling Short
New Cost of Living in Iowa report
finds 1 in 5 families cannot meet basic needs

Nearly 120,000 Iowa households do not earn enough to provide for a basic standard of living despite one or more full-time wage earners. Overall, 20 percent of Iowa working households meet this description in recent years, with 301,000 people living in those households. For single parents, the challenge is greater than for married parents, and for Iowans of color, the challenge is far greater than for white families.

The Cost of Living in Iowa 2019 Sept. 24, 2019
Backgrounder, 2 pages
News release

An uncertain future for Iowa:
The outlook for communities and flooding
in context with our changing climate

Scenes of flooding devastation replayed across Iowa this past spring: levee breaches, impassable roads, devastated fields. Our new report puts trends about precipitation and temperature in the context of climate science. It seeks to answer:
• In the face of our changing climate, will Iowa flooding worsen as the world grows warmer?
• What is the outlook for the next 10-30 years if only limited action is taken?

Full report or PDF, 24 pages NEW!
Executive summary (or PDF, 3 pages)
News release (PDF, 2 pages)

And on our blog, IPP’s David Osterberg — who teaches about climate change — discusses what he learned during this project with Professor James Boulter of the University of Wiscconsin - Eau Claire. See “Science change and climate change.”

Choosing the Right Stream:
Keeping Together Clean Water
and Revenue Equity as Priorities

If Iowa policy makers ultimately pass the sales tax voters directed for environmental quality and recreational enhancement, it could compound inequities caused by the sales tax. A new report shows there are options to lessen or fully reverse those problems — and find revenue for water quality and trails.

Full report

News Release

Iowa Lip Service:
Our Inadequate Commitment to Clean Water

Policy makers need to acknowledge both the magnitude of the water quality problem in Iowa, and the role of nonpoint-source nutrient pollution. Financing has been inadequate.

A new report from IPP shows how we pay lip service to our financial responsibility as a state and have underestimated what is required for success.

Full report

Executive summary (or 1-page PDF)
Two-minute video by Natalie Veldhouse

Property tax limitation bill:
Pushing local services, workers aside

Threats to pensions might be eased in amendments to a bill imposing arbitrary limits on property tax revenues. But even then, Iowans should be aware of the consequences of the legislation — and the hollow claims about Iowa tax trends.

Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder
Four-minute video with IPP"s Peter Fisher and Mike Owen

Not only were city and county property taxes stable in Iowa despite claims of those backing the legislation, but the property-tax plan also threatens local decisionmaking.

Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder
by Peter Fisher of IPP
and David Swenson of Iowa State University

Wind turbines and health
Setting the president straight
There is no authoritative evidence that sound from wind turbines poses a risk to human health among neighbors, despite spurious claims by the president of the United States.

IPP video, 2 minutes
Osterberg interview with Michael Devine of KVFD-AM

Check out the science
IPP’s report in collaboration with experts from the University of Iowa and the Iowa Environmental Council takes a look at the findings of reputable analysis of these issues.
Full report 1/31/2019
Executive summary
News release

‘While — to some — the sound might be annoying, research studies have established no adverse health effects.’
— Peter Thorne, head of the U of Iowa Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Iowa’s already generous treatment of families with inheritance tax breaks

Inheritance tax repeal would take $90 million a year from services for all Iowans
As with debates about the federal estate tax, many misperceptions exist about the Iowa state inheritance tax — who pays it, how much is paid, and how it fits in the overall structure of state and local taxes governed by state law.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder 3/11/2019

No more for schools? Plenty for tax breaks
Research Credit cost $70 million in 2018 — much in checks
Iowa’s lucrative research subsidy cost Iowa taxpayers $70 million in 2018 — some as a credit against taxes owed, but most to companies that received $41.8 million in checks from the state without paying any Iowa corporate income tax.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership news release
Iowa Fiscal Partnership Tax Policy Kit backgrounder with nine-year comparisons
Large RAC beneficiaries list, 2010-18

capitolReal math on school funding
Per-pupil spending has been held down
The complex way that Iowa schools are funded makes it easy to distract people from seeing what is really happening. The best gauge of the impact of state policy decisions on local school budgets is to look at the Supplemental State Aid percentage, which governs any changes in local spending per pupil in Iowa's enrollment-based budgets. The 2.06 percent growth proposal passed by the Legislature will hold schools well below a 2 percent annual average over a decade.
Roadmap for Opportunity two-pager

Recommitting to public schools
Mistake to divert even more tax dollars to private schools
Iowa taxpayers have a responsibility to support public schools, whether they have children attending them or not. Yet, even while public schools have been underfunded, Iowa taxpayers are asked to support nonpublic schools to the tune of about $66 million each year. Some would even expand this with voucher proposals.
Roadmap for Opportunity — Keep public dollars in public schools
Backgrounder on already generous subsidies to private schools

Iowa is on the right path on IPERS

System works for current, future employees
Messing with Iowa's retirement system for most state and many local public employees — as some have proposed — could eviscerate a well-functioning pension system that benefits the Iowa and local economies.
Roadmap for Opportunity — Pensions 10/25/18
IPP’s Mike Owen on KVFD “Devine Intervention” program 10/25/18