Last week, the Iowa Legislature concluded our work for the 2021 Legislative Session. As we left the Statehouse, we had much to be proud of.
In January, I laid out a number of House Republicans’ priorities for the session. We were fresh off the campaign trail and in electing Republicans to represent 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties, Iowans had just sent us a message – loud and clear – on the direction they wanted to see for the state of Iowa.
They gave us an agenda; get kids back in school, support law enforcement, expand access to child care and broadband internet and deliver a responsible budget. So, we got to work.
After hearing from countless parents whose voices weren’t being heard, we responded with policies to deliver more parental choice in education. Almost immediately upon returning to the Statehouse, we passed a bill to require schools to offer parents the option of sending their children for 100 percent in-person learning.
We passed an expansive bill to increase protection and support for law enforcement while giving them additional tools to keep our communities safer. We made supporting public safety a priority in the budget as well. We allocated an increase of $20.5 million for the Department of Corrections and an increase of $10.6 million for the Department of Public Safety. The largest increases for each of those departments in a decade.
Because of the conservative and responsible budgeting principles from House Republicans over the last decade, our state was in a strong enough financial position to, not only fund our priorities, but deliver significant tax relief for Iowans.
In our tax relief package, we included income tax cuts for hardworking Iowans, a phaseout of the inheritance tax, additional workforce housing credits, and much more. And we did it in a responsible way to maintain the state’s fiscal stability.
Lastly, our chamber led the way for the expansion of access to quality, affordable child care. We passed over ten bills addressing the problem from all angles. We were successful in seeing many of those bills become law.
We doubled the income eligibility for child care tax credits from families making $45,000 a year to $90,000. We eliminated the “cliff effect” so families can take a promotion and accept a pay raise without losing their child care assistance all at once. We increased child care rates by $13.4 million and increased access to child care in rural areas by allowing in-home child care providers to accept an additional child.
I could go on and on listing the great things we accomplished this session. As we return to our districts, we have a lot to show for our work in the Capitol these last four months. Iowans put their faith in us to act on their priorities, to keep our promises.
I’m proud of how we’ve delivered.
Pat Grassley Represents Iowa House District 50 and serves as Speaker of the Iowa House.