Governor Reynolds delivered her third “Condition of the State” address this morning. What stood out?
First, consider the context of the speech. Republicans are in their fourth year of unified control of state government, and while the favorability ratings of the governor are quite high, the 2020 election is still shrouded in uncertainty on two key factors: perceptions of each party and the state of the economy. As such, it was not surprising to hear the governor press on a number of key issues relating to her party’s agenda…after 2020, the composition of the legislature may look very different.
Second, the proposed changes are both highly complex and highly emotional. The proposed “Invest in Iowa Act” will reportedly include cuts to income taxes and property taxes along with increased funding for mental health, water quality, and outdoor recreation (relating to the trust fund amendment adopted in 2010). Keep in mind that the governor said that any tax increase to pay for these proposals must be offset by tax cuts elsewhere.
The governor also hinted at two constitutional amendments on abortion and felons’ voting rights. Recall that constitutional amendments are typically passed via the legislative route (though the convention route is also an option). This requires the amendment to pass through two General Assemblies (an election must intervene) before being put to voters.
On top of all that, lawmakers must pass a balanced budget, one that spends no more than 99 percent of projected revenue (always a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans). In short, lawmakers will have their hands full for the next 98 days, all while thinking about November 3.