Fact Checker: Does Governor Kim Reynolds deny climate change?

Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) speaks August 29, 2016, during a hearing at the Capitol in Des Moines. (The Gazette)

On March 1, Governor Kim Reynolds delivered her address to the nation on behalf of the Republican Party in response to Democratic President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address.

But ahead of his speech, Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City was giving a Feb. 28 speech on the Iowa Capitol floor on “the top 15 things Governor Kim Reynolds won’t tell Americans.”

The fact checker only verifies verifiable claims. Thus, if the senator has expressed an opinion or made a statement that cannot be measured, we have not verified it. We also asked Bolkcom to provide their sources of supply for claims, which they did.

Claim: “Rural Iowa continues to decline: 68 counties in Iowa have lost population in the past 10 years.”

Although Iowa’s overall population grew by 4.7% from 2010 to 2020, the growth was largely centered in its urban centers. The other two-thirds of the state — 68 of 99 counties — saw population declines over the decade. Only a handful of rural counties saw population growth, mostly in northwestern Iowa.

Overall, Census Bureau data released in August 2021 showed 80% of the growth was occurring in the state’s four largest counties – a gain of 144,014 people, mostly around Polk, Johnson counties , Linn and Scott. Dallas County, west of Des Moines, is the fastest growing in the state and has seen an increase of more than 50%.

An IowaWatch analysis showed that seven out of 10 of the state’s 923 towns with fewer than 5,000 residents saw their populations decline or remain stagnant.

Urbanization remains a concern in much of rural Iowa due to its effects such as consolidation of school districts, diminishing employment, and impacts on the ability of small towns to provide public services. It can also impact the ability to obtain federal funding, which is often distributed based on population.

Rating: A

Claim: “State support for local schools is so low that 81 school districts won’t even get an extra dollar from the state.”

In support of this claim, Bolkcom provided an article from the leftist Bleeding Heartland, as well as documents from the nonpartisan Legislative Services agency regarding internal file 2316.

For fiscal year 2023, the legislation increased additional state assistance to schools by 2.5%, or $181 per student. The Legislative Services Agency estimated that total state funding for public schools and education agencies would increase by $172 million to about $3.58 billion.

Republican lawmakers have emphatically refuted claims they have cut education funding, citing steady increases each year in additional state aid. Critics say a 2.5% increase equates to an effective cut because it doesn’t keep up with costs.

Fiscal Adjustment funding, which is a state assistance mechanism to help cushion school budgets in districts experiencing rapid enrollment declines, is declining this year, according to Agency documents. legislative services. The agency’s tax memo for HF 2316 shows that 81 school districts will be authorized for a total of $8.9 million in budget adjustment funding. In fiscal year 2022, even more — $26 million — was authorized for budget adjustments.

According to the agency, funding for fiscal adjustment is collected through local property taxes, not state funding.

With flat or declining enrollment in many of these 81 districts, that means they won’t see any increase in their public funding since their enrollment has declined to the point that even a 2.5% increase in aid from the state can’t help.

A budget guarantee provision ensures that districts receive at least 101% of their previous year’s funding. However, the last 1% of this guarantee is funded solely by local property taxes. The first 100 percent is paid for by a combination of state funding and local property taxes.

This question goes hand in hand with the challenges described in the assertion about the decline of rural Iowa.

Category B. While it is true that 81 school districts will not see a funding increase, those districts have decreased. Stagnant funding, which is based on the number of students in a school district, is a natural consequence of declining enrollment.

There’s plenty of room for debate over the Iowa Legislature’s support for the growth of public education, but the connection between support for public education and the decline of these mostly rural school districts , despite increased state aid, is temporary.

Claim: “Despite the increasing frequency of massive flooding and severe storms, Governor Reynolds is a climate change denier.”

In support of this claim, Bolkcom cited a Des Moines Register opinion piece by Jeff Biggers, founder of the Climate Narrative Project. He also cited an Associated Press article about Reynolds’ refusal to allow Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to join 21 other states that were suing the Trump administration over a policy that relaxed regulations on coal-fired power plants.

“While I think that’s a factor, I think it’s overstated,” Reynolds said of climate change and its reported effects during a 2018 debate, according to the Daily Iowan. “I think we (Iowa) are working hard every day to do our part, especially when it comes to renewable energy (wind, ethanol, biodiesel, cellulosic).”

The governor’s carbon sequestration task force was devoid of any representatives from environmental groups, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported in June 2021.

The Iowa GOP Platform for 2020 explicitly states that the party opposes “all mandates associated with alleged global warming or climate control,” but the governor and his party are not the same entity – and that statement named explicitly Reynolds a climate change denier.

Rating: C There are reasonable inferences that can be made about Reynolds’ position on climate change, and Reynolds herself has said she thinks the effects of climate change are “overblown”. But on the whole, they did not constitute firm or explicit denials.

Claim: “(Reynolds) actually believes that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.”

It can be difficult to prove or disprove what a politician believes, rather than what they have said or done publicly.

“Governor. Reynolds wants it both ways. She spent most of her time continually raising questions about the integrity of our elections, even though no significant issues were found,” Bolkcom told The Gazette. after his speech on February 28.

On December 10, 2020, Reynolds released a statement saying she allegedly supported Iowa’s joining a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General to challenge election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and in Georgia.

“As I have always said, President Donald Trump, his campaign and his supporters have every right to pursue legal action in the courts. The American people deserve a fair and transparent election,” he said. she stated.

Reynolds waited two months after the election to admit that President Biden had been legitimately elected.

“I think he is legitimately elected. I do believe, however, that there are enough concerns about the integrity of the electoral process, so I think it’s beneficial for everyone to take a look at some of these things that have been questioned and to put them to bed or just to find the answers. I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” Reynolds told WHO TV in Des Moines. “People need to have confidence in the electoral process, and that should go without saying. You can’t just tell them it’s safe and secure. We just need to be able to answer some of these questions.

In support of its claim, Bolkcom also cited an example at a Trump rally in Iowa last October where it failed to correct the record after Trump spoke at length about presidential election fraud. .

Rating: D. Even with the concerns raised by Reynolds about voter fraud, it’s not entirely accurate to say, in the present tense, that she believes Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. to be given more merit if it had been made before January 2021. To say so now is inaccurate.


The Fact Checker team verifies statements made by an Iowa political candidate or office holder or national candidate/office holder about Iowa, or in advertisements that appear in our marketplace.

Claims must be independently verifiable. We assign statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.

If you spot a claim that you think needs checking, email us at factchecker@thegazette.com.

The members of the Fact Checker team are Elijah Decious, Erin Jordan, Marissa Payne and Michaela Ramm. This fact checker was researched and written by Elijah Decious.

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