2022 Legislative Session BeginsMonday, January 17, 2022
Iowa's 150 elected State Representatives and State Senators are back to work in Des Moines at the Iowa State Capitol. They will be there for about 100 days, until the middle of Aprill. During this time, they will talk about changes to Iowa laws, work on new laws, hear from experts and Iowans that care about an issue, and pass a budget for the next year. In Iowa, our state budgets go from July 1 to June 30. So the budget they pass this legislative session will begin on July 1, 2022 and to through June 30, 2023.
Speaking of budgets, Iowa has a lot of money in the bank. Because of extra federal money helping out during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has managed to save $1.2 billion and put another $900 million in reserves (what they call a “rainy day fund”). That means Iowa has more than $2 billion in its savings accounts, money that has not yet been spent.
Iowa usually spends about $8 billion each year on education, Medicaid, prisons, courts, roads, and other programs and services. While we spend $8 billion a year, Iowa gets about $9 billion from taxes each year. That’s what makes the “surplus” (which is what the state calls the unspent money). Because Iowa has money that is not being spent, you are going to hear a lot this year about tax cuts.
Some legislators will say that Iowa should not be taking so much money from Iowans, so they will want to cut taxes. Other legislators will say that Iowa has not been spending enough on things like Medicaid, so they will want to put the unspent money toward paying direct support professionals more money, ending waiting lists for services, and investing in home and community based options. That will be the central debate in this legislative sessoin - to cut taxes or invest in services, or a combination of both.
When legislators are in session at the Capitol, this means you can do something. You can ask for change, you can advocate for the things you want to see happen in Iowa. You just have to ask. Your legislators are elected by the people living in their districts, and they work for YOU. They cannot do their jobs if they don't hear about the things you want to see done. For example, if you are waiting for services you can ask your State Representative and State Senator to use some of the unspent money to end waiting lists for home and community based services. infoNET has tools to help you get started - just go to infonetiowa.org!
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