COVID deaths at 723 in Iowa, positive cases climb toward 32,000
58 Iowa counties now have COVID deaths
Trends of positive COVID-19 tests in Iowa are escalating while the death toll reached 723 through Monday evening. The count of Iowa coronavirus cases is pushing toward the 32,000 mark, hitting 31,716 through Monday's preliminary reports.

See more on IPP’s COVID-19 page. LATEST!

Initial jobless claims still persistently high in Iowa
15 weeks: 367K new claims
The numbers remain staggering for new unemployment claims with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Iowa, the 15-week total has reached past 367,000 with an increase of 8,300 last week. Many weeks in the period were well above the highest-claims week during the Great Recession. Even as initial claims have increased by lesser amounts in recent weeks, they remain well above comparable periods from the last recession.

Broadband needs and opportunities in Iowa
Iowa's broadband gaps are significant — and important
As so much of daily life moved online during the pandemic, unequal access to the internet became an urgent problem for communities across the state. Two decades after the emergence of broadband, or high-speed internet, many rural communities lack the infrastructure to support distance education, telecommuting, or telehealth.
Backgrounder for IPP by Karen Mossberger, Caroline Tolbert and Scott LaCombe.
Or 2-page PDF

Also see full report

Housing assistance critical in crisis
Rent, mortgage relief in COVID response misses many Iowans in need
Rent and mortgage relief is sorely needed to prevent a wave of evictions and foreclosures, forcing families to double up or seek homeless shelters at a time when social isolation is still needed to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus. A step forward came with Governor Kim Reynolds’ creation of the “Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program,” funded with federal relief dollars, though it is questionable that the amount will be enough, and its design will miss many families needing assistance in this economic crisis.
See IPP backgrounder by Peter Fisher.

COVID case hotspots host meat plants
Spotlight shows rural areas, especially with packing plants, are COVID-19 trouble spots
Now 13 of Iowa’s 99 counties had 10 or more confirmed cases per thousand residents on June 10. Each has one thing in common — a large pork or beef or turkey plant.
Updated IPP backgrounder by Peter Fisher and David Osterberg
June 10, 2020

June 1 IPP backgrounder by Peter Fisher and David Osterberg
Or 2-page PDF

Also see Peter Fisher's recent blog

Big challenges and choices ahead
Bolster LIHEAP to help struggling Iowans — key piece of putting economy on track
Other states have innovative programs for home energy assistance. In the short term of responding to the COVID-19 crisis, simply adding to federal LIHEAP funds could serve Iowans struggling to meet home energy bills — and boost the economy.
See Iowa Policy Project backgrounder May 29, 2020
Or 2-page PDF

State fiscal relief from Congress must do more than meet emergency services
Congress must provide more to states and local governments — for the duration of the economic crisis — for them to avoid drastic cuts in education and other crucial public services.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership brief by Peter Fisher UPDATED May 23, 2020

Why not deal with two serious threats at once?
COVID-19 responses could also address climate change — and help low-income Iowans
While federal and state responses to climate change have been slow, there are ways national leaders now dealing with the spread of COVID-19 could address both threats and help low- and moderate-income families at the same time.
See IPP’s new report.
Or the news release.

Demanding a healthy way back to work
Jobless benefits directive misreads Iowa, federal law in crisis
Iowans want to get back to work. But — much more importantly — they want to get back to work under conditions that protect their health and safety, and the health and safety of their families and communities.
See Colin Gordon’s backgrounder
Also an Iowa Policy Points blog

Governor’s comments bully concerned workers
Contrary to her claims, workers have protections from unsafe work
Governor Kim Reynolds has publicly warned workers that if they do not return to jobs in businesses reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, they do not qualify for unemployment benefits. Not so fast, Governor.
See the statement from IPP director Mike Owen

A critical time for action in Iowa
COVID threat spreads; state policy response is needed to augment federal actions; good start on jobless benefits
Responsible actions at the federal level require a state response as well.
See Iowa Policy Points post by David Osterberg

Unemployment insurance
State actions on unemployment insurance are welcome news. The four-week break in the legislative session is a good opportunity to look for other ways to strengthen the system to protect working families.
See Iowa Policy Points post by Peter Fisher

Medicaid and SNAP
The current health emergency is an opportunity to bolster both Medicaid and SNAP (Food Stamps) to make sure they operate as intended, mitigating the impact on Iowans while our state and local leaders do what they can to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
See Iowa Policy Points post by Natalie Veldhouse

State fiscal relief — a lesson from the Recovery Act
The 2009 Recovery Act offered a good example of how state fiscal relief, in addition to the temporary boost in Medicaid funding, can aid in recovery from economic problems caused by the current health emergency in the United States.
See Iowa Policy Points post — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Many issues remain in background of the COVID-19 crisis

School-aid deal still leaves schools short
Decade average is below new 2.3 percent deal
and behind average for previous 10 years

To put the House-Senate agreement on school aid in perspective, take a step back for a better view. It's not a pretty picture for Iowa public K-12 schools.

See Iowa Policy Points post by Mike Owen

Ernst & Young biz tax rankings
Breaking trust
with the trust

Governor Reynolds’ tax plan
breaks free of voters’ intent

Iowa voters should be getting more than Governor Kim Reynolds is proposing for purposes they expected in approving a constitutional amendment in 2010 to improve outdoor recreation and water quality.

Full report (4-pg) Feb. 14, 2020
News release (2-pg)
Backgrounder (2-pg PDF)

Peter Fisher's guest opinion in the Des Moines Register
David Osterberg's guest opinion in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

How to keep clean water and revenue equity together as priorities
Full report
News Release

Iowans working hard, falling short

Cost of Living in Iowa update shows how ‘cliffs’
in work supports send families over the edge

“Work support” policies help low-wage working families survive, keep children out of poverty, and provide a path to better education and better jobs. Before the current pandemic, nearly 120,000 Iowa working households did not earn enough to meet basic needs. Single parents face greater challenges than married parents, and Iowans of color face greater challenges than white families.

Strengthening Pathways to the Middle Class:
The Role of Work Supports
Jan. 8, 2020
Backgrounder, 2 pages
News release

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

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