Significant increases in reports of COVID cases and deaths in Iowa
Counts rise — some attributed to previous days — but deaths reach 441, including 105 in Polk
The count of Iowa coronavirus cases have risen past the 16,500 mark and deaths hit 441 heading into the Memorial Day weekend with looser social-distancing rules.

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

COVID cases double in one week in two counties with relaxed rules
Updated spotlight shows areas, including rural areas, that appear to have become trouble spots
A number of Iowa counties are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, even as the Governor continues to reopen the Iowa economy and further relax social distancing requirements.
Latest data from IPP’s Peter Fisher

Also see Peter Fisher's recent blog

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. NEW!
Or the news release.

Increased jobless claims lower, but still high in Iowa
Nine weeks: 313K new claims
The numbers remain staggering for new unemployment claims with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Iowa, the nine-week total reached 313,000. While the latest week is the lowest in the period, it is still in the range of the highest week during the Great Recession.
See Colin Gordon's latest analysis

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

COVID-19 threatens critical state, local Iowa services
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 14, 2020

Additional state fiscal relief from Congress needed to fill revenue gaps
The combined effect of the looming recession and the health emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic will have a devastating effect on state and local budgets. While Congress has provided some assistance, it has been targeted to emergency spending. It is clear much more will be needed for Iowa and other states to avoid drastic cuts in education, public safety and health care.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership brief by Peter Fisher

The latest deal in Congress falls way short of what is needed. Notes Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “While providing needed support to small businesses and hospitals, the new COVID-19 package ... falls short even as an interim measure, failing to deliver crucial state and local fiscal relief and food assistance.” See his statement here.

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