Iowa JobWatch: A year of decline
Unemployment rate bumps up in December as Iowa shows first annual net loss of jobs since 2009
Iowa payroll jobs dropped for the second straight month and the unemployment rose to 2.7 percent in December amid troubling long-term trends. The year 2019 marked the first calendar year showing a net loss of Iowa payroll jobs since the last year of the Great Recession, 2009.

Iowa JobWatch Jan. 24, 2020

2020 vision lacking for Iowa's future

‘Condition of the State’ keeps low-road path
on education, tax equity; hope on child care

Governor Kim Reynolds set a low bar for education funding, tax fairness and future services but left room for hope on child-care access in her Condition of the State address.

The Governor’s tax proposals appear to follow an all too familiar formula: Raise taxes on low and moderate income Iowans in order to provide tax cuts that would benefit mostly those at the top.

News release Jan. 14, 2020

What real Iowa tax reform would look like
Hint: It doesn't mean cutting taxes for the wealthy
while jacking them up on the poor

Iowa is an average-tax state. Even before expensive tax cuts passed in 2018 to benefit the wealthiest, Iowans paid about 2.5 percent of their income toward income taxes, 2.4 percent for sales taxes, which earns us a rank of 20th and 21st, respectively, among the 50 states. Business taxes in Iowa are actually below average according to recent studies by two accounting firms: one placed Iowa 31st, the other 36th.
Roadmap for Opportunity
• What real Iowa tax reform would look like

• Promoting economic security for Iowa workers

More in IPP’s Roadmap for Opportunity

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 their children out of poverty, and provide a stepping stone to a better education and a better job. This report shows how to strengthen pathways to the middle class — an important public policy issue when nearly 120,000 Iowa working households do not earn enough to provide for a basic standard of living. 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.

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

Aggravating inequality:
Tax cut act at age 2

Not much to celebrate for most Iowans
Two years ago this month, Congress passed and the President signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The bill showered huge tax breaks on corporations and wealthy individuals, while doing little for most working families. In Iowa, 84 percent of the tax cuts in the bill have gone to the top 40 percent of taxpayers, while the bottom 40 percent get just 7 percent.

Full report Dec. 16, 2019

Des Moines Register story

Flooding and inequity: Policy
responses on the front line

Disparate community impacts and recoveries
as flooding rises with climate change

Communities on the front line of natural disasters vary in their ability to protect themselves, and to recover. As public policy has contributed to these destructive trends, policy makers in an era of climate change and greater problems must examine how to better focus on equity in policy responses.

Full report Dec. 12, 2019
Executive summary
News release

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

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

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

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.
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