DES MOINES, Iowa — The 2022 Iowa Legislature will convene on Monday, Jan. 10. Ahead of the kickoff to the session, key lawmakers gave reporters some insight Tuesday into what's at the top of their list for 2022.
Gov. Kim Reynolds says the public will hear her full 2022 agenda during next week's Condition of the State. However, she outlined some of the main issues she plans to address.
"That includes, among other things, another round of tax cuts, "Reynolds said. "A comprehensive workforce package and of course continued education reform. I believe that this upcoming session represents yet another opportunity for us to come together as one state, accomplish great things and continue to lead this nation."
The state ended the fiscal year with a $1.24 billion surplus and $1 billion in reserves, according to the governor.
"That's thanks to conservative budgeting practices, a diverse and open economy," Reynolds added.
The governor adding the state will likely wait to work on any legislation regarding vaccination mandates until the Supreme Court weighs in on OSHA's federal mandate for both major employers and healthcare workers.
Reynolds says fixing the workforce crisis remains at the top of her list, adding Iowans will learn more on her plans during her Condition of the State.
"It's been a priority of mine since day one," the governor told reporters. "I've said all along we have more job openings than we have people on unemployment right now. As of yesterday, we had 78,627 job openings and 61,600 Iowans on unemployment."
The governor also pointed to income tax reform as a top priority.
"We need to do it fiscally responsibly and be fiscally responsible and how we do it. We need to make sure that we can maintain it. We have to watch our spending," she said. "But most importantly, we have to make sure that we can still fund priorities that are important to Iowans public safety education. And I think we've demonstrated that we can do that."
Meanwhile House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, says she and other democratic lawmakers have concerns on how the state will make up for this funding, especially if the tax is eliminated altogether.
"There's been plenty of headlines about cutting and eliminating the income tax altogether but not a lot of talk about how we're going to pay for it and what we have to eliminate," said Konfrst. "Because if you want to eliminate the income tax, you also need to decide if you're going to raise property and sales taxes. Or if you're going to go ahead and get rid of the Department of Education, K-12 funding, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Public Safety, there are choices there are decisions being made here."
Reynolds says she's held a few roundtables with concerned parents throughout the metro who reached out with issues over curriculum in schools. More specifically raising questions over certain books they believe are controversial.
Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton believes this will be tackled by lawmakers who she says are working to add more transparency to education.
"If parents don't want their 12-year-old child checking out a book that might have inappropriate, not age-appropriate, potentially obscene materials, they should have an opportunity to reject that prior to their student getting they're getting their hands on it," she said.
Sinclair says specific legislation has not been finalized.
Democrats raised questions on this type of reform, specifically how it will impact the ongoing teacher shortage.
"Many of the ideas that have been tossed around don't make it easier to get teachers in the classroom," said Konfrst. "Threatening to put them in jail, charging them with felonies for books, and also talking about removing books. Remembering that when you remove a book for one child in the library, you're removing it for every child in the library."
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