© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

House Democrats propose plan to lower costs for Iowans

jennifer konfrst speaks at the iowa capitol
Katarina Sostaric
House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst unveiled Democrats' plan to lower costs at the Iowa Capitol Wednesday.

House Democrats proposed several pieces of legislation Wednesday they say would lower costs for everyday Iowans.

They include provisions aimed at helping people afford child care and college tuition, capping the cost of insulin, expanding affordable housing, lowering home utility bills, and preventing wage theft.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said it’s a great time to help Iowans’ budgets as the legislature begins working on the state budget. She said she hopes to work with Republicans, who control the Statehouse, to get Democratic proposals through.

“We’ve heard from Republicans all along that what they want to do is put money back in the pockets of everyday Iowans,” Konfrst said. “Well, doing these things puts money back in the pockets of everyday Iowans in ways that are truly meaningful.”

They’re proposing adjusting the child and dependent care tax credit to allow families making up to $250,000 per year to benefit, subject to a sliding income-based scale. They want to provide grants to help establish new child care centers, and raise the maximum amount of money a family can make to qualify for child care assistance.

Democrats are also proposing capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $25 for a month’s supply for Iowans with any type of common health insurance plan.

They want to establish a grant program to help homeowners pay for exterior home improvements or repairs and create a tax credit program geared toward adding new affordable housing units. And they want to renew solar tax credits and ensure Iowans have more access to funding for weatherization assistance and discounts related to energy costs.

Democrats are proposing freezing tuition at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa, as well as community colleges. They said state underfunding of the universities has forced the schools to raise tuition to cover costs.

Rep. Molly Buck, D-Ankeny, said Democrats also want to help prevent wage theft. She said 1 in 7 Iowans experiences some form of wage theft, and that lawmakers should require the state labor commissioner to put a high priority on investigating possible violations.

“And while I recognize that the state legislature cannot control all of the ups and downs of our economy, we can take action to lower costs and reduce living expenses for everyday Iowans,” Buck said.

With Democrats in the minority in the Iowa Legislature, it’s typically very difficult for them to move their policy ideas forward. It is possible some of these programs could be added to bills that lay out the state budget for the next fiscal year.

The state of Iowa is once again expecting to have a large budget surplus, as Republican leaders are proposing spending far less than the amount of revenue the state is expected to receive.

Konfrst said House Democrats are also willing to work with Republicans on providing property tax relief.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter