A good old-fashioned thunderstorm is blasting the capitol building as I write the week's capitol news. Mother Nature's little hint of a coming spring with the freshness of a new growing season and the beginning of another annual cycle of life. Too bad we can't wash away last year's spending and start a-fresh with a clean slate where the state budget is concerned.
After weeks of committee meetings filled with presentations from every agency, bureau or division that depends on state funding, we must now decide who gets funded at higher levels than others.
One thing is sure, they will all take cuts. They are, for the most part, good programs but, there is just not enough money to go around to fund them at their current levels.
We have finally seen the legislature's budget recommendations which are about 1% across the board below the governor's budget. Some people just don't get it. I was in a committee meeting the other day and absolutely couldn't believe what I was hearing. Currently, Iowa code requires all state funded building projects to spend ? of 1% of the project budget on Art.
Well, here we have a bill to double that to 1%. I'm all for the arts and 1% doesn't sound like a lot but, figure it out. On a ten million dollar school project that would equal $100,000.00 worth of art. At a time when people all across the United States are reeling from the economic downfall, we are asking agencies and all Iowans to do with less. Am I missing the picture here?
The Governor and his legislative counterparts in the House and Senate also made it crystal clear that they are very interested in eliminating federal deductibility which would essentially mean that Iowans will be taxed twice. As it stands now, Iowans are able to deduct their federal tax liability from their state tax liability in order to greatly reduce their overall state income tax burden.
They want to eliminate this deduction so taxpayers will have to pay more in state income taxes and, therefore, the state would have more money to spend on growing government and paying for more pork projects.
Estimates suggest it could cost taxpayers as much as $700 million dollars in additional taxes paid to state government.
Eliminating this will put an even greater strain on lower-income and middle-income taxpayers and take money out of the pocketbooks of Iowans who would otherwise use those hard earned dollars to stimulate their local economies through the purchase of daily necessities.
Iowans won a major battle this week as the price-fixing prevailing wage bill failed in the Iowa House but, there are many more battles yet to be fought in the coming weeks. Every Iowan should keep a watchful eye on the business in the Legislature and continue to communicate their concerns to their elected officials.
However, if this harmful economic agenda is to be stopped and a more positive, productive agenda put in its place, Iowans must also work hard to inform friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about what is happening at the capitol in Des Moines. Our children, grandchildren and future generations of Iowans are depending on us to be vigilant watchdogs now so they can have more prosperous futures filled with opportunity and possibility.
Pushed out of committee this week was a bill we're calling the Voter Irrelevancy Act. It would restructure Iowa's 7 Electoral College votes and turn them into popular votes based upon how the rest of the country casts their ballots in a Presidential election. The Iowa Caucuses would become irrelevant as candidates would spend less time, money and effort on Iowa since our votes would go the way New York, Texas and California since their population base is larger than ours. Simply put: this bill is bad and I hope that some of my other colleagues will come to see how bad it is as well.
We are, at this moment, continuing with an all day debate concerning the bicycle bill "Rules of the Road" which summed up in two words IS INSANE!
The majority party is determined to pass a bill which actually gives bikes (non-motorized) more rights than the licensed, insured, and gas tax paying cars running 55 to 60 MPH on our roads and highways. Sounds like the bikes are winning. So, all you licensed car drivers out there, be prepared to stop on a dime because it will be your fault if you have an accident with a bicycle.
GRUNDY, TAMA, BENTON , & IOWA COUNTIES
Please feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-281-3371.
"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have".