Legislators made great strides in the areas of property tax, education reform and healthcare during the 2013 session. Lawmakers kicked off the 2014 Legislative session Monday, Jan. 20 and it is important to look forward. We must continue to build upon those successes.
We must pay attention to the issues impacting Iowans and continue to act responsibly with legislation to strengthen our economy, foster job creation and provide Iowans a world-class education. It is important to explore income tax reform, which benefits Iowans by keeping more money in their pockets. Crafting sensible tax policy also makes Iowa more appealing for businesses looking to expand or relocate in our state.
We at the Legislature must maintain fiscally responsible budgeting practices. We need to protect commitments made to Iowans pertaining to education and property tax reform in the coming years without encumbering Iowans by raising taxes.
As the ranking member of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, I applaud Gov. Terry Branstad’s initiatives to create new opportunities for veterans. It is important to stand by our veterans who sacrificed so much for our freedoms.
The governor’s Home Base Iowa Act has a component I believe is long overdue — exempting military pensions from state income tax. As an elected official who believes the legislature should explore all aspects of income tax reform, this is a welcome start. Passing this initiative also moves our state in the right direction when it comes to competing with neighboring states such as Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The Home Base Iowa Act also includes key measures I support such as directing Iowa’s occupational boards to adopt rules assigning credit for military training and experience in the licensing process, and calling upon the State Board of Education - to follow the Regents universities lead — to grant in-state tuition to veterans, their spouses and dependents at Iowa’s community colleges.