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A New Game Plan for Iowa

Iowans work hard, we have a can-do nature, and we’re results oriented. Ron Corbett believes we should expect the same from our elected officials. We need people in public office who aren’t content to leave things how they found them, but who have the passion and big ideas to leave things better than they found them. That’s what the New Game Plan for Iowa is all about.

We acknowledge our state is facing some challenges. To overcome them, we need to think outside the box and elect individuals with bold ideas and a proven record of getting results.

Ron is looking forward to discussing solutions and ways to make Iowa the envy of the nation again as he campaigns across the state. His approach is through the grassroots. Top down solutions don’t work. When deals are hatched in backrooms, only the big guys win, and hardworking Iowans often lose. Ron has been and will continue to travel the state to listen to your ideas and talk openly and frankly about solutions to incorporate in this New Game Plan for Iowa.

We want you to participate in this plan. Different people will like different parts of the plan, but if each Iowan finds a part they like and runs with it, we will be able to work together to ensure Iowa is the greatest state it can be. We hope you will join us!

Here are just some of Ron’s ideas for Iowa’s New Game Plan. He calls them the “Core Four.” We will be expanding on these ideas throughout the campaign.

Iowa’s Economy

The Challenge

Iowa is facing a tidal wave of budget shortfalls and an overly complicated tax system. Improving Iowa’s economy should be the number one focus of our next governor.

Iowa’s tax code is outdated, confusing, and expensive, leaving Iowa families with fewer jobs, lower pay, and less opportunity.  In fact, hardworking Iowans making between $40,000 and $50,000 pay a higher effective tax rate than Iowans making over $1 million per year.  That isn’t conservative, it isn’t fair, and it isn’t in keeping with our Iowa values.

For the last two years Iowa has faced budget shortfalls, which have led to raiding the state’s rainy day fund and cutting services that affect all Iowa families.  When cuts are made mid-year it leaves a few people in Des Moines to pick winners and losers.  The economy needs certainty in order to grow, and families need certainty to plan.  When Iowa high school students are planning for college, they shouldn’t have to worry if state budget shortfalls are going to lead to sudden tuition increases like they did this year.  Families plan ahead when it comes to budgeting, and the state should too.

One way to jumpstart Iowa’s economy and fix our budget shortfalls is modernizing the tax code.

The Plan

Ron Corbett has always been a bold leader with big ideas.  His plan to modernize Iowa’s tax code would make Iowa a leader among states and one of the most competitive in the nation.  This is a key to drawing new business and a more robust and talented work force to the state.

Iowa’s extremely high marginal tax rate has caused people to leave Iowa for greener tax pastures.  Almost every Iowan knows someone who spends more than half their year in a state like Florida, Texas, Arizona, or South Dakota where they are able to enjoy a much lower income tax rate.  When our tax system offends fellow Iowans to the point they decide to become residents of a different state, we all take a hit.  Modernizing and simplifying Iowa’s tax system will help us keep families and workers in Iowa and attract new people to our state.

In the last 20 years Iowa has lost nearly $4 billion because of this population migration.  That’s $200 million annually, which is a large sum of money that could be used for infrastructure projects or to provide critical services for Iowans.  Iowa currently has the fourth highest marginal tax rate in the United States.  We can do better than that, and by modernizing and simplifying our tax code, we will do better.

Ron proposes eliminating deductions and credits for those earning above $10,000, making it possible to lower the marginal tax rate from 9% to 3%.  This would be offset by a one penny increase in the state sales tax, with a portion dedicated specifically to water quality and the remainder to the state’s general fund.  This new tax structure would improve Iowa’s business friendliness, which is currently ranked 40th in the nation, and provide an immediate kick start to our stagnant economy.

This approach would also simplify Iowa’s tax system.  Did you know Iowa’s income tax form only has 3 fewer lines than the federal IRS form?  Our goal should be a tax form only half the size of the federal form.  No Iowan should need to hire an accounting firm just to fill out the basic personal income tax forms.

Together we can find a new approach to modernize our tax code, protect jobs, and create a brighter future for Iowa families.

The Bottom Line

As a conservative, Ron believes Iowans should have the freedom to decide how to spend their own hard earned money.  Lowering the marginal tax rate and simplifying our tax code puts more money in the pocket of every Iowa family and gives them the opportunity to decide how to best provide for their family’s comfort and pursuit of the American dream.

Water Quality

The Challenge

Most Iowans agree that water quality is a pressing issue for both rural communities and urban areas.  Some waterways in our state are impaired.  Rural and urban communities need to know our water is clean for recreation, sporting, and drinking.  The largest obstacle to tackling this issue is deciding how to pay for it. We need a solution at the state level before federal bureaucrats use burdensome regulations to impose their environmental agenda.  This is an Iowa problem and should be met with an Iowa solution.

Unfortunately, this issue has also caused a divide between some urban areas and farming communities resulting in lawsuits, which are not constructive to bringing about solutions.  As mayor of Cedar Rapids, Ron Corbett has taken a different approach.  He has argued that cities can work with farmers to come up with solutions that work for every Iowan.

The Plan

In Iowa we understand the concept of generations and how decisions made today will impact those to come.  Think of how many farms proudly display signs honoring their status as century farms.  These farming operations began five or more generations ago and survived because each generation of owner operators considered the next generation as they planned and worked.

Iowans have already overwhelmingly voted in support of a constitutional amendment requiring 3/8 of any new penny of sales tax be used to protect our natural resources.  Ron proposes raising Iowa’s sales tax by 1 cent.  As discussed, the majority of this funding would be used to offset modernization of Iowa’s income tax code.  The 3/8 penny required by law for natural resources would be used to assist farmers and communities in implementing Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Secretary Northey’s plan is currently voluntary and many farmers and communities lack the financial resources to opt in.  Estimates indicate Ron’s plan would provide up to $80 million per year to help Iowa tackle the challenge of water quality.  Ron also believes the state can work with Iowa companies to establish a matching fund to add an additional $40 million per year to a water quality fund.  The private/public partnership approach has worked well for projects in Cedar Rapids and is a model Ron knows will work for Iowa too.

Stewardship is a conservative principle Ron Corbett has long championed.  Tackling the issue of water quality today with consideration for future generations of Iowans is a legacy that will make us all proud.

The Bottom Line

Working together we can implement a solution to our water quality challenge that works for all Iowans.  We can have a clean environment, robust economy, and the strongest farming communities of any state in the nation.

Education

The Challenge

Iowa was once the envy of the nation with schools, educators, and test scores that ranked among the highest in class.  In recent years, we’ve slipped in our test scores, class sizes, teacher compensation, and in preparing our students for the future.

The conversation in our state surrounding education often devolves quickly to an us vs. them mentality pitting various groups against each other, while Iowa’s students are caught in the crossfire and left underserved.  We can’t simply cast blame.  Iowans need to come together to create a robust and modern education system to prepare our young people for the demands of our ever-changing world.

The Plan

The main focus of our education system should be preparing next generations of Iowans for the future.  Whether that means college, trade school, or entering the workforce, our students should be able to face their future with confidence.  Strong schools are a selling point which draws people to Iowa and helps keep families here.  A good education system is an important component of economic growth.

Education in Iowa should be a suite of solutions providing options so families can pick the one that works best for them.  We need strong private schools and charter schools and we should continue to push for policies that make these strong options in Iowa.  We also have to acknowledge the majority of our students are served through K12 public education, and we need it to be the best system in the country.

Education is always changing to meet evolving demands.  But, as with anything, a good education system is built on a foundation of the basics.  We can’t ignore the basics.  The core of any school is its teachers, and to have strong schools we need the best teachers.  Keeping talented teachers in the classroom requires competitive compensation.  We need to change how we compensate teachers in Iowa.  Teachers should have competitive wages, and our best teachers should be paid more.

Ron’s proposals to modernize our state’s education system and return it to number one are rooted in one word: INNOVATION.  Our current system of compliance needs to be replaced with a system of innovation.  To accomplish this, Ron Corbett proposes creating a state innovation fund.  This will be a new resource for communities, schools, and teachers to spark innovation through a partnership of state funding and private sector grants and support.

The Bottom Line

When each generation sees our schools, they should be able to look with envy at what they’ve become, as opposed to reflecting that things were better when they were students.  Our education system can be the best in the nation if we all work together with an eye on innovation and the future.

Caring for People

The Challenge

When it comes to issues like mental health, Medicaid, and healthcare insurance coverage, we’ve got serious problems in Iowa that cannot be ignored.  We have 72,000 Iowans on the brink of losing their healthcare.  We do a much better job today of identifying mental health issues in people, but the approach of treating them by often pushing them to emergency rooms or prisons is damaging to the overall health of our state.  While Medicaid 1.0 was a failure, Medicaid 2.0 doesn’t seem to be working either.  We need a new and improved Medicaid 3.0 to better serve those who rely on the program.

The Plan

Improving public policy and running government efficiently is a major responsibility of elected officials and public servants, but we can never lose sight of what really matters, which is people.  This doesn’t mean we need to create new government programs to care for people, but we need to show concern and work with private organizations and the faith community to implement solutions.  Much like how after the Cedar Rapids flood in 2008 government didn’t build everyone a new house, but Ron led the city to work with groups like Habitat for Humanity to meet this basic human need.

Iowa has to address the threat of 72,000 people losing their healthcare next year because of the failing system established by Obamacare.  We can’t wait for the federal government to act, because we may be waiting forever.  This is causing uncertainty, which is hurting families and harming our economy.  Small business owners, farmers, and workers at risk of losing their healthcare aren’t purchasing new cars, expanding their homes, or spending money in their communities.  Their legitimate fear is leading them to pull back from activities that push our economy forward.  We can’t let this uncertainty continue.

When it comes to Medicaid we can’t expect two often conflicted mission statements to work well together.  Government has a responsibility to maximize taxpayer value while private companies have a duty to maximize returns for shareholders.  Government can learn a lot from the private sector and implement some of their better principles, but we have to serve Iowans first.  This means developing what Ron calls Medicaid 3.0 to best serve the needs of our state.

As Speaker of the House, Ron led the effort to create the Hawk-I (Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa) program.  This program was an innovative solution to help provide healthcare to uninsured and underinsure children in Iowa.  It is a model that has worked for nearly two decades and has been replicated by other states.  When Iowans come together to innovate, we become a leader other states follow.

We need a smart approach to treating mental health.  This needs to be a system of care focused on keeping people out of emergency rooms and prisons.  Treating mental health problems isn’t the same as treating other illnesses.  These often require long term plans and dozens or hundreds of visits to healthcare professionals.  When the state implements policies pushing these suffering people to emergency rooms and jails, it is not only inefficient, but it shifts the costs of these programs to local governments and property taxes.  Ron is listening to Iowans and healthcare providers to develop a bottom up approach to tackling this challenge.

The Bottom Line

Real conservative leadership means knowing the role government can and should play and ensuring when tough decisions have to be made that it is not the least vulnerable among us who are left short-changed.