2024 Iowa legislative session is history

DES MOINES — Lawmakers sent the governor a bill to cut Iowans’ income taxes by a BILLION dollars next year, they set up the framework for a nearly $9 BILLION state budget and then concluded the 2024 legislative session early Saturday morning. 

A bill to establish a single income tax rate of 3.8% next year was approved during that final, 20-hour-long day. Governor Kim Reynolds suggested something similar, but slightly lower in January. This weekend Reynolds said she was proud tax cuts are being reduced and accelerated beyond the plan passed in 2022.

Lawmakers this year approved another Reynolds priority — mandating that the salary for first year teachers be at least $50,000. Senate President Amy Sinclair of Allerton says those are standout accomplishments of the 2024 legislative session. “We passed bills this year that will put Iowa’s income tax rate at the sixth lowest in the nation and Iowa’s starting teacher pay at the fifth highest, not even accounting for cost of living,” Sinclair said. “And we all know that Iowa is a very cost effective place to live.”

In January, Governor Kim Reynolds also asked legislators to overhaul the state’s nine Area Education Agencies and she signed a reorganization plan last month. Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum of Dubuque says the changes centralize power in Des Moines. “Iowans will remember how Republicans chose to serve their governor rather than their constituents,” Jochum said. “They slashed our Area Education Agencies and put special interests over Iowa’s children.”

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights says kids with special needs are going to suffer. “I want to talk about moms who are trying to figure out how they’re going to get the occupational or mental health therapy they need,” Konfrst said, “and we’re just getting started. Imagine what will happen next year.”

House Speaker Pat Grassley says House Republicans put a lot of work in to make changes in the governor’s original plan to protect the AEA’s special education services, while letting schools choose how to use the rest of the money that had been going directly to the AEAs for other services. “Schools are excited to have some opportunities to have some flexibility with some of those funds,” Grassley said. “…The bill we were able to put together I think will continue to deliver on those special ed services.”

In the closing moments of the 2024 legislative session, Republicans voted to reassign Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents to work on cases related to the law Governor Reynolds signed to have Iowa’s legal system arrest and deport immigrants who are in Iowa illegally. Republican Representative Taylor Collins of Mediapolis says two million dollars is in the budget for up to a dozen Division of Criminal Investigation agents to support the effort. “To address the rise in illegal immigration and related criminal conduct or as assigned by the commission of the Department of Public Safety,” Collins said.

The Iowa Senate adjourned for the year at 3:26 Saturday morning, followed by the House an hour later.