i9 Fact Checker: Ad attacks Mathis for being similar to nationally recognized Democrats

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An attack ad attempts to argue State Senator Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids) supports the same policies as Democrats President Joe Biden (D) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12).

Sen. Liz Mathis is running against Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA01) in Iowa’s Second Congressional District.

Source: Ashley Hinson for Congress

Ashley Hinson for Congress is the name for Rep. Ashley Hinson’s campaign, according to documents from the Federal Election Commission. The campaign is spending more than $2 Million on ads until Election Day.

Claim #1: She wants higher taxes and more government spending, just like Pelosi

Analysis: The ad is referring to the bill supporters call the Inflation Reduction Act, which Mathis supports even though she was never in a position to formally vote on it. According to the congressional research service, the bill makes changes to the tax code, allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for certain drugs and funds numerous climate initiatives.

While the law creates new programs that require government spending, the Congressional Budget Office found the law actually decreases the deficit by reducing spending on health care and increasing enforcement of tax laws to catch people not paying. It also overall reduces tax revenue, despite adding a corporate minimum tax, because of new tax credits for renewable energy.

Hinson’s campaign is specifically using figures published by the top Republican Senator in the Finance Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). He uses figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation, which is a nonpartisan group operating with economists, attorneys and accounts assisting members of congress on tax legislation. Their data shows Americans would see a slight increase in their federal tax rate, with the highest increase being .6% for those making more than $1 Million in 2023. It also shows the amount of federal taxes collected will also increase during the same year.

Conclusion: The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget explains some individuals may pay more in taxes because of the effects of higher wages from lower health insurance premiums. And increased enforcement will mean people now underpaying taxes will pay more. Both estimates reflect higher revenue – in other words people paying more – whether you consider that a tax increase is debatable, but it is higher taxes. However, the CBO report shows an overall decrease in spending, which is why this claim gets a ‘C’.

Claim #2: Liz Mathis opposed the largest tax cut in Iowa history.

Analysis: This claim is referring to House File 2317, which Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law in March. Sen. Liz Mathis voted against it.

The law made many changes to Iowa’s tax laws, most notably a flat tax of 3.9% on state income taxes starting in 2026 and a lower corporate tax rate. The Iowa Legislative Services Agency says it will cut revenue (taxes) by $1.9 billion.

A property tax cut in 2013, which was also touted as the largest tax cut in state history, created tax relief valued at $4.4 billion. Sen. Mathis supported that tax cut.

Another tax reform bill from 2018, which became law, would reduce revenue by $2.9 Billion over six years. Mathis opposed that cut. We’d also note the Cedar Rapids Gazette fact-checked a similar claim, where the Chairman of the Iowa Republican Party called the 2018 cuts the largest.

Conclusion: Sen. Mathis opposed the most recent tax reform projected to cut taxes by nearly $2 billion and she opposed one in 2018 that also slashed revenues by 2.9 billion, both touted at the times as the largest tax cut in Iowa history. However, she supported the 2013 property tax cuts valued at $4.4 billion, which was also touted as the largest tax cut in Iowa history. The Legislative Service Agency does not track ongoing fiscal impacts, so it’s hard to say how much of these projected cuts were realized, which is what saves this claim with a ‘D’.

Claim #3: Liz Mathis wants to tax retirement income

Analysis: This claim is also referring this year’s tax cuts, House File 2317. The law also eliminates state taxes on retirement income like 401(k)s and IRAs.

According to the Legislative Services Agency, this applies to state individual income taxes for disabled taxpayers and taxpayers 55-years-old or older. The agency also said this applies to a deceased person’s retirement income received by a spouse or person with an insurable interest in the deceased person.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is a government-authorized nonprofit overseeing broker-dealers, said people will still pay federal taxes on the income withdrawn from IRAs and 401(k)s.

Conclusion: The ad leaves out the context that the cuts to retirement taxes were a small part of a much larger tax reform package Se. Mathis opposed. That’s why it gets a B.

Claim #4: Liz Mathis wants to tax the mileage on my car

Analysis: This claim is referring to Senate File 2107, which Sen. Mathis introduced in 2020. The bill would create a pilot program to test if the state could collect a tax on the miles a motor vehicle travels.

The bill would have required the Department of Transportation to recruit 1,000 volunteers to get equipment installed, which measures the number of miles traveled on a highway. Then, those volunteers would pay a tax, which would have been refunded.

A mileage tax would replace the existing fuel tax to fund road construction in the state, given the increasing fuel-efficiency of vehicles and growing popularity of electric vehicles. Oregon and Utah have implemented pilot programs with this tax.

Conclusion: The ad presents the mileage tax as a new tax, rather than a potential replacement for the existing gas tax. That’s why this claim gets a B.

Claim #5: Liz Mathis called cutting taxes “moving backwards”

Analysis: The ad is referring to a partial quote in an article from the Cedar Rapids Gazette after Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a $2.86 Billion tax cut in 2018.

The law, which was called Senate File 2417, passed the Iowa Senate without support from Democrats. Those lawmakers argued many Iowans didn’t see a tax cut from this bill and it would result in higher property taxes and cuts to services and education.

Mathis’ full quote in the story explained a similar rationale for not supporting the bill.

‘Most Iowa taxpayers won’t get a tax cut, or see very little cut in their taxes,” she said. ‘Our revenues are already low and we’ve cut things that help the state grow, such as education and help for small businesses.”

Sen. Mathis has supported bills, which cut taxes like a 2013 bill.

Conclusion: This quote is taken out of context to imply Mathis called any tax cut “moving backwards”. Mathis was referring to a specific bill, not tax cuts in general – especially since she has supported some tax cuts as noted earlier. That’s why this gets a ‘D’.