jobsIowa JobWatch
Big bump in the road in February
Iowa’s sluggish job picture held to form with a slight increase in March — but also an increase in the unemployment rate. New data released today by Iowa Workforce Development showed an uptick in the unemployment rate, from 3.7 percent to 3.8 percent. The rate also was 3.7 percent in March 2015.

“Iowa's job performance is in a funk through the first three months of the year. Despite a jump of 6,700 in January, losses in February wiped out the gains and March was up only 1,600, which is in line with the monthly averages we have seen for a few years now.”
— IPP’s Mike Owen

See our full Iowa JobWatch statement 4/15/16

jobsWhy wages in Iowa fall short
Latest ‘Cost of Living in Iowa’ report
details basic-needs family budgets;

Despite their work efforts, many Iowans cannot meet basic living expenses as the cost of living continues to rise and both the labor market and public policy fail to keep pace.
Full report 4/5/16
Full report printable PDF (21 pages)
News release (or 2 page PDF)
Local, regional data

Hear report author Peter Fisher on The Devine Intervention, KVFD-AM Fort Dodge

SSA-historySchool funding: An Iowa priority?

New on our blog — looks at the long-awaited deal

The result met neither expectations nor needs of schools to keep pace with their costs. It also kept Iowa in a trend, now at seven years, of holding average growth in state aid to less than 2 percent, while revenues grew at a faster pace — despite legislators' claims that money was too tight to do more for schools.

Iowa Policy Points posts
Sensible context on school aid growth 3/29/16
School money: Big deal (not really) 3/23/16
KVFD “Devine Intervention” interview (Segment starts at about 9:00 mark) 3/24/16

Mike Owen“Education is underfunded in Iowa. Education is not the priority, even if it is the greatest share of spending, because it is not funded in a way that reflects any strategic thinking.”
— IPP’s Mike Owen

water-education graphSales-tax sleight of hand

Voters' intent, political moves collide on water, education issues
Schools would lose revenue and Iowa voters' intent would be distorted by new proposals on the state sales tax, according to a report from the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.

Iowa Fiscal Partnership policy brief 3/10/16
News release 3/10/16

“This is the new sleight of hand in Iowa — pass a tax for one purpose, and then shift the way the money will be used.” — IPP’s Mike Owen

To fund water solutions, why not the obvious?

Removing the sales-tax exemption for farm chemicals that cause Nitrogen and Phosphorus pollution in Iowa waters would raise significant revenue — but also connect the source of the problem to the solution.

David OsterbergIowa Policy Points post 3/7/16
Cedar Rapids Gazette guest opinion 3/6/16
“One answer to the issue of funding water-quality solutions is right in front of us: Tax the pollutants.” — IPP’s David Osterberg

There are alternatives to the Governor’s water plan, and those may offer greater economic benefits — while not diverting funds from school infrastructure spending.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership statement 3/8/16
Mike Owen interview on KVFD-AM 3/10/16

Capitol—detailWestHigh cost of conformity
Plans to ‘couple’ with federal tax changes not what they seem
There's a big push by some to go along with federal income tax deductions and credits that were set to expire.

But the promoted benefits don't match up with the reality of how the changes would affect investment, and they come at a high price tag — once again, at the same time schools and other traditional priorities are held back.

Iowa Fiscal Partnership policy brief 3/2/16
Iowa Policy Points blog post 3/2/16

ALEC_KansasNo taxes, but millions in checks
Big companies do best from research subsidy
The millions Iowa gives to companies that do not pay state income tax is about the same amount of 1 percent in state school aid.

That's one takeaway from the latest annual report from the state on Iowa’s Research Activities Tax Credit, which is used far less to ease taxes than to shovel subsidies to corporations outside the budget process, whether they pay taxes or not.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership backgrounder 2/24/16
Iowa Fiscal Partnership news release 2/15/16

Top corporate claimants — View list
Official state reports — Links here
Des Moines Register editorial — View
KVFD interview with IPP’s Mike Owen — Listen

Grading the States — an eye on bogus business rankings
Iowa Policy Project launches ‘Grading the States’ —
David Osterberg at KVFDThe veil is off state business climate rankings that purport — inaccurately — to identify policies that promote state economic growth. The Iowa Policy Project has launched “Grading the States,” a website that will offer ongoing critiques of several prominent business climate studies. View “Grading the States” at
News release 1/14/16

Why ALEC keeps getting it wrong
Verdict is in: Tax cuts poor recipe for growth; Lessons for state policymakers in Iowa and beyond
An update of a nearly year-old report by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) comes with the baggage of a poor track record for its policy agenda.
News release 1/20/16

For advocates of income tax cutting, Kansas was to be the poster child. Oops.
‘The Lessons of Kansas’ 1/14/16
Radio interview with Peter Fisher, KVFD Fort Dodge 1/21/16

“Any state legislator considering ALEC’s policy recipes should know that they fail when tested against actual economic results.”
— IPP's Peter Fisher

Raising the minimum wage — a look at who gains in Linn County
Often a Boost for Women, Full Time Workers, and People Over 20 Years Old with Education Past High School

min wage - johnson co characteristicsInaction by Congress and state legislatures has led many cities and counties to adopt a local minimum wage. A $10.10 county minimum wage, phased in by 2017, would raise the incomes of at least 18,400 workers in Linn County, the majority of them full-time workers, and most (4 out of 5) age 20 or older.

IPP Policy Brief 1/11/16
IPP 1-page backgrounder 1/13/16
Johnson County at $10.10 9/30/15

“The increased incomes of low-wage workers would in turn increase spending in local retail and service establishments, boosting the local economy. ”
— IPP’s Peter Fisher

With a $15 minimum wage, an IPP report projects benefits to 19,300 workers in Johnson County and 24,300 in Linn County. Full Report or news release 8/11/15

Or the statewide picture — raising the minimum wage
Various proposals would benefit hundreds of thousands
$12 by 2020
Economic Policy Institute report 4/30/15
Iowa Policy Project fact sheet 3/4/16 UPDATED
IPP fact sheet
Also see: The Cost of Living in Iowa

... or dealing with a related issue: Wage theft
New report examines recent enforcement data, and survey of low-wage workers
Many Iowans work at jobs that provide little security and are not paid the wages they have earned.
See our reports on Iowa’s ‘Invisible Epidemic’