By John Hendrickson
In recent years, Iowa has led the nation in conservative policy reforms. Governor Kim Reynolds rightly deserves a great deal of credit for her leadership in implementing pro-growth tax reforms, championing a student-first approach to education, fighting against the woke cultural Marxist agenda and leading Iowa responsibility through the pandemic. Nevertheless, Governor Reynolds has been able to achieve many of these great accomplishments because of a conservative legislature. Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver is a “quiet conservative” who is not only an ally of the Governor but is a crucial leader who is advancing a conservative policy agenda.
Senator Whitver is a “quiet conservative” because he does not seek the limelight yet is unafraid to boldly defend conservative principles. Whitver is a gifted communicator who clearly articulates the importance of conservative policies and ideas.
Senator Whitver is willing to stand for principle even when it may be more advantageous to compromise. As an example, during the debates over the recent tax reform measure, Senator Whitver, and Senator Dan Dawson, Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, both stated that there would not be any “sacred cows” when it came to finding a pathway to lower rates. In other words, tax credits would not be given special consideration, which upset and caused controversy especially with some corporations.
Senator Whitver understood that Iowa’s tax code needed to be reformed and modernized. For decades income tax rates were high, and the tax code was filled with numerous credits and exemptions because of past legislatures using the tax code to solve policy problems. As Majority Leader, Senator Whitver has made tax reform a priority.
During the 2021 legislature it was the Senate that championed a tax reform measure that repealed the revenue triggers that created an unnecessary barrier to income tax cuts, phased-out the inheritance tax, and eliminated the county mental health levy. This reform was followed up with the historic tax reform measure passed this year.
The 2022 tax law will create a low flat individual income tax rate of 3.9 percent by 2026. Iowa’s high corporate tax rate of 9.8 percent will be gradually reduced until it reaches a flat 5.5 percent. Another aspect of the reform was the elimination of all state taxes on retirement income.
As an entrepreneur, Senator Whitver understands the importance of creating a more competitive economy for Iowa and that starts with lowering tax rates. Further, even though this tax reform was significant, both Senators Whitver and Dawson will not be complacent when it comes to additional reforms.
Future reforms may center on continuing to lower both the individual and corporate tax rates, while working toward the goal of eliminating the income tax. In addition, tax credit reform will also be on the table. For the 2023 legislative session, Senator Whitver is making property tax reform a priority.
Perhaps most important, Senator Whitver is a leader on conservative budgeting. He has tasked his caucus with following a prudent budget. This year the legislature passed a $8.2 billion Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which is just a slight increase from the $8.1 billion Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Both Governor Reynolds and Senator Whitver fought to limit spending in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
The result of following a path of fiscal conservativism not only resulted in pro-growth tax reforms, but it has created a solid fiscal foundation for Iowa. Iowa’s budget is in surplus, and the reserve funds are at their statutory limits, while the Taxpayer Relief Fund has an estimated balance of $2 billion. Fiscal conservatism has allowed Iowa’s economy to recover quickly from the COVID-19 triggered economic downturn. Iowa’s economy continues to be strong even during this period of economic uncertainty caused by high inflation.
Following a path of fiscal conservatism is never easy. It is far more beneficial from a political standpoint to say “yes” than “no” when it comes to government spending. Regardless, the priorities of government are being met and Senator Whitver deserves credit for helping to hold the line on spending.
Senator Whitver warns that spending discipline will be imperative in light of the tax cut: “This generational tax cut will be implemented over the next several years, and a conservative, sustainable budget must accompany that tax relief,” stated Whitver.
It is not just on conservative fiscal policy that Senator Whitver has led. Whitver has been a full-spectrum conservative champion, protecting life, traditional values, and fighting to defend the Second Amendment in Iowa.
As Majority Leader, Senator Whitver is a reminder of another “quiet conservative,” President Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge was known for not saying much or seeking the limelight, but he was a conservative champion who defended limited government and traditional values. Coolidge also understood the importance of limiting spending and saying “no.”
Just because you don't see him on the front page of the paper or evening news as often, make no mistake that Jack Whitver is a major driving force behind making Iowa a beacon of conservative reform.
Iowa is fortunate to have such a conservative leader who is on the frontlines helping Governor Reynolds to advance freedom, economic growth, and protect traditional values.