Fact Checker: Reynolds State address gets an A grade on all but two claims
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivers her state of the state address Tuesday night before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature at the Statehouse in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Governor Kim Reynolds’ 2022 State of the State address on Tuesday night lasted 48 minutes and covered topics ranging from education and the environment to technology and taxes.
Some statements drew cheers, while others might have irritated listeners. The fact checker only verifies verifiable claims. So, if the governor has expressed an opinion or made a vague statement that cannot be proven, we have not verified it.
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Read on to see which facts she nailed and which may have missed the mark.
Claim: “In the last eight months alone, we have invested an additional $300 million in broadband…”
On September 14, the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant program announced $97.5 million in grants for broadband infrastructure projects across the state. On January 4, the state released a notice of intent to award an additional $210 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for broadband projects. This money has not yet been disbursed, but the commitment to invest is there.
To note: A
Claim: “…abolished the family inheritance tax.”
Reynolds signed Senate Docket 619 in June, which phased out inheritance tax, or inheritance tax, by 20% per year until it disappears on Jan. 1, 2025. So if someone dies in 2025, the person who inherits his estate does not pay state taxes on that income. There is still a federal estate tax, but it does not go into effect unless a person inherits more than $11.7 million, AARP reported.
To note: A
Claim: “Last year the state ended up with a surplus of $1.2 billion, in addition to $1 billion in cash receipts.”
Iowa ended fiscal 2021 with a general fund surplus of nearly $1.24 billion, the nonpartisan Legislative Services agency reported Sept. 27. and, in the past, she’s cited that $1 billion figure for the state’s cash reserve. We think she just misspoke. The legislative agency said the state’s combined cash reserve and economic emergency fund for fiscal year 2021 was actually $801 million, about $200 million less than what Reynolds had said.
To note: B
Claim: “Four million fewer Americans are working now than before the pandemic.”
The governor’s office pointed to a Yahoo Finance report on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Staff Turnover Summary Report released earlier this month. However, the report said the civilian workforce was down about 2.4 million participants last month from February 2020 levels.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in June 2021 that there were 4.9 million more people unemployed and able to work in the fourth quarter of 2020 than at the end of 2019. Experts noted that there could be a number of factors in why people chose not to work, such as a lack of childcare or concerns about the virus.
To note: VS
Claim: “Iowa is in a better position than most, with the ninth highest labor force participation rate in the nation. But we are still down from where we were at the start of 2020.”
Iowa has the ninth highest labor force participation rate in the United States, which calculates the percentage of the population ages 16 and older who are working or actively seeking work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in December that Iowa trailed Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Washington, DC.
In December, Iowa’s labor force participation rate was 66.8%, about 5% above the US average. But that’s down from early 2020.
In January 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Iowa’s labor force participation rate was 70%. This is 3.2% more than the current rate.
To note: A
Claim: “Five of the top 10 jobs in the state are healthcare careers, with registered nurses and practical nurses topping the list. »
As of Jan. 11, the day of Reynolds’ speech, five of the top 10 job postings on the Iowa Workforce Development job board were in the health care sector. Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses topped the list at #1 and #2, followed by licensed practical nurses and licensed professional nurses; doctors and surgeons; and physiotherapists.
To note: A
To claim: “The importance of a strong public school system is reflected in the state budget, where public education accounts for more than 56% of our public funding.”
Public education is the largest item on the government’s balance sheet.
Of $8.2 billion in total general fund appropriations, Reynolds’ proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 — which will span the year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2023 — includes 4, $6 billion in spending on education as a whole, including the Department of Education and the Iowa Council. Regents. That’s 55.8% of state spending, rounding up the 56% of all state spending according to Reynolds.
To note: A
To claim: “…For K-12 (education), that’s over $3.7 billion, and it’s grown by almost $1 billion over the last decade.
Reynolds’ budget proposal for fiscal year 2023 calls for $3.68 billion in K-12 education spending. This represents an increase of about $1 billion since fiscal year 2012, when the state spent about $2.6 billion.
To note: A
Affirmation: “When US News and World Report ranked Iowa as the number one opportunity last year, it wasn’t because we wanted to. It’s because we deserved it.
Although Reynolds is correct in stating that the US News and World Report ranked Iowa first on its opportunity ranking list last year, greater context is needed because “opportunity” is ranked according to several measures. The Opportunity Ranking considers three categories: Affordability, Economic Opportunity, and Equality. Iowa ranked fourth in affordability, 12th in economic opportunity, and 27th in equality.
Among 71 other metrics ranked by US News and World Report this year, Iowa ranked 27th in economy, 19th in infrastructure and 23rd in fiscal stability.
To note: A
Statement: “Iowa is a leader in renewable energy. In fact, we lead the country in the production of ethanol and biodiesel and the crops that make them.
Iowa was #1 in ethanol and biodiesel production in 2020, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association — which is independently confirmed by the US Energy Information Administration.
Iowa also continues to lead in wind power, which was not mentioned in Reynolds’ speech. Wind power provided 57% of electricity generation in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2021 Onshore Wind Market Report. That’s a step ahead of the more than 30% produced in Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and North Dakota.
To note: A
The Fact Checker team verifies statements made by an Iowa political candidate/leader or national candidate/leader 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 email@example.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 the team.