Republican lawmakers passed a more than $2 billion plan to cut taxes over the next six years and they completed work on next year’s $7.4 billion state budget on Saturday. It was the 118th and final day of the 2018 Iowa legislative session.
With Republican Kim Reynolds in the governor’s office and Republicans in the majority in the House and Senate, the GOP controlled the legislature’s agenda. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake praised her GOP colleagues on Saturday.
“You all came together and time after time, you chose real change rather than defending the status quo,” Upmeyer said in a closing speech late Saturday afternoon. “…We stood together for the opportunity to improve the future of Iowa and you can go home to your communities proudly sharing our significant achievements.”
A year ago, in Republicans Governor Terry Branstad’s closing month’s in office, Republican legislators dramatically reduced union bargaining rights for public sector workers and passed a ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. On Friday afternoon, Governor Kim Reynolds signed another bill that will basically ban most abortions in Iowa.
“For me, it’s immoral to stop an innocent, beating heart,” Reynolds said during a bill-signing ceremony in her formal office as protesters shouted outside. “…And, for me, my faith leads me to protect life.”
On Saturday, the Republican-led legislature dropped its plan to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood’s sex education programs for teenagers. The premiere action of the legislature’s last day, though, was passage of a massive tax plan that eventually will cut individual and corporate income taxes by 400-million dollars a year.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity I feel that we have today to ensure a prosperous for the future,” Representative Peter Cownie, a Republican from West Des Moines, said.
Democrats dismissed the GOP’s assertions that tax cuts will stimulate economic growth as make-believe “pixie dust” and Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames sid there will be a “flood tide of red ink” in the state budget.
“If this bill becomes law it will be the single most fiscally irresponsible bill in Iowa history,” Quirmbach said.
Mark Smith of Marshalltown, the Democratic leader in the Iowa House, faulted Republicans for keeping final details of the tax bill underwraps until the legislature’s closing hours.
“You chose to work behind closed doors with special interests instead,” Smith said late Saturday afternoon in a speech on the House floor. “The Iowans we represent deserve better.”
House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, a Republican from Windsor Heights, the Republican-led legislature has taken “consequential” actions over the past two years.
“In November, 2016, Iowans entrusted Republicans to lead the House, Senate and the governor’s office,” Hagenow said in a speech on the closing day. “The message the voters sent was clear: they wanted smaller, smarter, more conservative government.”
The debate over that record will now shift out of the statehouse and onto the campaign trail. Voters in November will select 25 senators and 100 state representatives to serve in the legislature for the next two years.