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