Rep. Taylor Collins Week 5 Update

To the People of House District 95

It was another productive week at the capitol as I served on multiple subcommittees for bills in the education, state government, and judiciary committees. All these bills advanced, and many bills moved out of the four different policy committees I sit on.
Republicans Prioritize Public Education Funding

Each year, one of the first issues the Legislature tackles is the ‘SSA’ funding increase. Supplemental State Aid, often called SSA, is the amount of new funding committed by the state to local school districts. Each year, the Legislature is required to set this figure for the next fiscal year within the first 30 days of the legislative session. This week, the House and Senate passed a bill to increase SSA funding by 3%, and a day later later, the Governor signed the bill into law. This increase amounts to $106.8 million in more money for public schools this fiscal year, amounting to a total of about $3.7 billion in School Foundation Aid.

Furthermore, it brings per pupil funding to $7635 per student, an increase of $222 over fiscal year 2023. The pie chart at the end of my newsletter illustrates how the state budget for fiscal year 2023 breaks down. As they always do, some folks will continue to say Republicans are underfunding public education, but Republicans are responsible for record-high education investments over the last decade. K-12 education funding has increased by almost a billion dollars over the last 10 years. In fact, the last time education funding was actually cut, was when Democrats had total control of state government in 2010.

House Joint Resolution 2 – Right to Hunt & Fish Amendment

Much of the work that is done at the capitol occurs in committee, and one of the committees I’ve been appointed to serve on this General Assembly is the House Judiciary Committee. As someone who’s not an attorney by any means, this is an extreme honor. Last week I was assigned as the floor manager of House Joint Resolution 2, a constitutional amendment adding the right to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife to our state’s constitution. 23 other states have a right to hunt and fish amendment in their state constitution, yet the State of Iowa remains without these protections. This amendment preserves the rights of sportsmen, and as avid hunter, I was honored to be assigned the shepherd of this bill. Today I ran the bill out of Judiciary committee before it will be considered by the full House. Unfortunately, all Democrats voted against the bill – siding with radical enviormentalists like the Sierra Club over Iowa’s sportsmen.

January Revenue Remains Strong as Tax Cuts Go Into Effect

The implementation of last year’s major tax reform has not slowed state revenue as it continued to outpace projections in January. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, state tax collections virtually mirrored January 2022 levels with the state again taking in over $1 billion in tax payments. Through the first seven months of the fiscal year, state revenue is 4.2 percent higher than in Fiscal Year 2022. This figure continues to run well ahead of any forecast from the Revenue Estimating Conference.

Personal income tax collections did experience a decline in collections when compared to the previous year, but that would be expected as personal income tax rates were reduced and the tax on pension and retirement income was eliminated on January 1. For the month, collections totaled $493.2 million – a decline of $36.7 million from FY 2022. But thru seven months, personal income tax payments continue to outpace projections with the category growing by 6.2 percent.

Sales and use tax collections also bounced back from a sluggish December. Sales tax collections came in $118.6 million higher than what the state collected in January of 2022. And for the first time this fiscal year, actual sales tax collections are now outpacing the REC projection. Through seven months, sales and use tax payments have risen by 5.9 percent.

Like personal income tax, corporate income tax rates were reduced starting on January 1. But unlike personal income tax, corporate tax collections rose in January. For the month, payments totaled $72.9 million. This was $15.2 million higher than January 2022 and kept actual receipts (+10.1%) ahead of the REC’s forecast (+3.6%). The strong numbers were somewhat offset again by very strong school infrastructure payments to districts. While sales and use tax collections have grown by 5.9 percent so far this year, school infrastructure payments (which is based on sales tax) are up 14.9 percent.

House & Senate Pass Bill on Medical Malpractice Reform

This week, on a bipartisan vote, the Iowa House passed House File 161, a bill to limit the total amount to of noneconomic damages for a medical malpractice claim at $2 million for causes of action involving a hospital, and at $1 million for all other causes of action. This bill does not limit economic damages – those that are quantifiable like lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, or past and future medical bills. 28 states currently have either a limit on noneconomic or total damages, including all of Iowa’s surrounding states, with the exception of only Minnesota and Illinois.

This bill will help Iowa recruit and retain physicians. Iowa already ranks 44th in the nation of physicians per capita, and it is even worse for needed specialty care like psychiatry and OB/GYNs. This bill will also help Iowa maintain the existing medical residency programs that are needed to train future physicians to serve every part of Iowa. The state now funds the liability insurance for Sioux City’s family medicine residency program after they were unable to find coverage without taxpayer assistance. Iowans also saw the Cedar Rapids family medicine program close in 2020 after they faced 60% increases in medical malpractice premiums. Every single medical provider in Iowa registered in support of this bill. The Iowa Chamber Alliance is also registered in support. Health care is a necessary component to every community, and many know the extreme difficulty SE Iowa is having recruiting physicians to our area.

No amount of money can ever make up for the loss of a loved one. But in Iowa, massive noneconomic damage awards have increased exponentially. Iowa’s liability environment continues to get worse as juries are awarding bigger damages than we have ever seen. Last March, there was an award of $97.4 million with $40 million for noneconomic damages – unquantifiable amounts toward pain and suffering. This bill compensates people for medical injuries, while also keeping Iowa’s health care industry intact, and maintaining access to health care for all Iowans.

House Fixes Property Tax Calculation Error – Saves Taxpayers Millions

This week the House Ways and Means committee passed Senate File 181. The bill fixes an error that allowed local governments to budget as if they would take collect more in property tax revenue than they really should have been. The bill fixes this mistake and ensures that Iowa property tax payers do not have to pay for it.

So how will this error be fixed? Remember, property taxes are paid in arears, so the “extra money” has not been collected yet—the local governments just made their budgets based on the thinking that this money was coming. The bill provides implementation provisions requiring the director of the Department of Revenue, within two business days following the effective date of the bill, to issue an amended order certifying to the county auditor of each county the percentages of actual value at which residential property, commercial property, industrial property, and property valued by the department of revenue pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 434 shall be assessed for taxation.

Senate File 181 also requires each county auditor to determine revised assessed values based on the amended order and report the revised values to the Department of Management within 15 days after issuance of the order. Then the bill provides that in order to implement this change, budgets for fiscal year 2024 are given an extension and now must be certified on or before April 30, 2023.

So how much money are we talking? The fiscal note gives a rough range because many factors are still in flux (tax rate changes, etc). The fiscal note provides that there will be $21.4 million in guaranteed reduction of property taxes because of the school aid formula. Additionally, taxes owed by residential and multi-residential taxpayers could be reduced by an additional amount of $111.8 million. That potential amount is if the same property tax rates are applied as would have been without Senate File 181.

Legislative Forums

I want to thank everyone who came out to last weekend’s forums in Wilton and Wapello. It was a great turnout at both locations, and the conversation on different issues / pieces of legislation were great! Our next in person forum / event should be in Henry County on Saturday, February 25th – stay tuned for more details!


Rep. Taylor Collins
Iowa House District 95

You will hear from many that education just isn’t a priority for Republicans in Iowa, yet many of them don’t know that K-12 education spending accounts for about 45% of the state budget!