The School Choice Questions We Should Be Asking

The education establishment has done an amazing job of creating the perfect “Emperor’s New Clothes” scenario when arguing against school choice.  We’ll remind you of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale that raises questions about believing our own two eyes or buying into a pretense that is being sold to us.  In the story, the emperor is fond of clothes […]

The Growing Cost of Municipal Debt

With inflation and rising interest rates, it’s normal to worry about the national debt and what that means for our country. But what about Iowa and our local communities?

During the last few years, the state of Iowa tightened its belt and has reduced its overall debt burden. However, the combined total of state and local government debt increased by 5.3% to $18.8 billion in FY2021, the highest percentage increase in a decade.

Iowa Poised to Make a Move

For fifteen years the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has produced Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. This broad index measures 15 policy variables that ALEC has deemed important to economic growth, with a particular focus on tax and spending policies.

Intentions Don’t Always Equate to Results

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results” – Milton Freedman

This quote hits home for many of us who care about public policy, and it applies most accurately to using our tax dollars to incentivize companies to do business in Iowa.  Depending on one’s view of incentives, this can be thought of as economic development, or corporate welfare, or even crony capitalism.  The reality is incentives are a tool used to compete in our global economy and literally every state in the nation has adopted some form of incentive program.

Foreign Acquisition of American Agriculture

The United States is growing more dependent on foreign nations for necessities, including potentially hostile nations such as China. As we examined last month, 2021 was the 10th straight year America’s trade deficit with the Chinese eclipsed $300 billion.  If that pattern is not alarming enough, though, there’s more worrisome activity being undertaken by China: the massive acquisition of American farmland.  By the United States Department of Agriculture’s own estimate, investments from China held $2 billion of American agricultural land at the beginning of 2020.

Truth-in-Taxation: A Rock Chalk Taxpayer Protection

March Madness wrapped up last week with the Kansas Jayhawks being crowned National Champions.  While there may not be many Iowans who joined Jayhawk fans in celebrating that victory, there was another win in Kansas that we can all be happy about: property taxes.  The map above identifies 21 Kansas counties that actually experienced a decline in property taxes this year.

Before examining what caused the big win in Kansas (the property taxes, not the basketball), we should reflect on the property tax situation in our state.  Iowans are demanding property tax relief and nobody can blame them.  Even before inflation reached record highs, putting a major squeeze on household budgets, Iowans felt the pain of having a heavier property tax burden than 40 other states.

Benefiting the Few With Resources From the Many

Most citizens expect the property taxes paid to their city to be used for road maintenance, snow removal, building maintenance, and of course, public safety. These activities are all considered core government services and functions. However, in current times we see some of our city governments spending considerable dollars on things that could be better managed by the private sector – and that’s a problem.

Did Iowa Spark A Tax Reform Movement?

This year may be one of the most historic for states lowering income tax rates across the nation.  So far, at least six other states have joined Iowa in passing tax cuts, while many more have tax reform legislation under consideration. The graph above illustrates the new rates that will be delivered to individual taxpayers in their respective states. The […]

A Common Sense Approach To School Choice

Let us take a step back from all the numbers, charts, and research on the issue of school choice.  If we’re honest, most of us only believe the data that fits with our narrative anyway.  Instead, we can discuss a couple of arguments that opponents of school choice trot out and apply some basic common sense to both of them.