This past year, Iowa suffered from historic floods and powerful tornados. The state's budget is in disarray because of irresponsible spending. The economy appears to be in full retreat. So the Senate decided its priority on Thursday was to spend the day debating the Bicycle Bill of Rights bill. Now that's great prioritization.
News flash! The majority party just released preliminary budget targets for 2010 to the press. Despite all the public pronouncements about bipartisanship, Republicans have not yet received the figures. Perhaps the bipartisanship is between the majority party and the press. It is an interesting process. At the 11 a.m. Republican House and Senate press conference today, members of the press were asking the minority leaders about the budget figures. Remember the press already had the numbers, the minority leaders had not seen them yet. Who's on first?
This week the Senate passed what is referred to as the allowable growth bill for Iowa's K-12 public school districts. It permits schools to increase their budgets by 2% for fiscal year 2011. School funding is based on a combination of state aid and property taxes. This proposal will provide almost $3.7 billion in funding for schools. Roughly $2.4 billion comes from state taxes and $1.3 billion from local property taxes. This will be a property tax increase of about $60 million in 2011. It is irresponsible to spend millions of dollars in 2011 when the 2009 fiscal budget has not been fixed nor has serious work begun on the 2010 budget short fall.
The Iowa House of Representatives provided this General Assembly with an historical event. Last Friday the Speaker of the House kept the voting machine open after the members failed to pass the prevailing wage bill. They did not adjourn that session until 1:00 p.m. on Monday. Then the majority leader changed his vote from 'aye' to 'nay' so the bill could be 'Reconsidered'. This is a legislative parliamentary procedure that allows the bill to return to the floor for debate. We may not have seen the last of the 'job killing' Prevailing Wage bill.
Now the governor and his legislative counterparts in the House and Senate are voicing their interest in eliminating federal deductibility. This would essentially mean Iowans will be taxed twice. Now, Iowans are able to deduct their federal tax liability from their state tax liability. Eliminating this deductibility from state taxes will put a strain on lower-income and middle-income taxpayers. It will take money out of the pocketbooks of Iowans who would otherwise use it in their local economies.
The forums on March 7 will be in Coon Rapids and Aspinwall. Hope you can join us for legislative conversation and coffee.