Last week was full of debate in the Senate and House as the Legislature moved on with bills that made it past the first funnel deadline. House File 352, the zero-based budgeting bill, was debated last Tuesday and the House passed it on a 57-42 vote.
Iowans for Tax Relief strongly supports HF 352 and the budgeting methods it would require. Iowa law currently requires most state departments to submit a budget based on 75% of their budget from the previous fiscal year and then justify amounts above that figure. HF 352, if signed into law, would require the executive and judicial branch’s departments to submit a budget based on what the department actually needs and to justify all of that amount.
Unfortunately, state and federal governments’ budgets grow each year without real accountability on where tax dollars are spent and whether they are truly needed. There is a clear need for more accountability and transparency. A zero-based method would provide transparency and also help identify and prevent unnecessary budget growth. This bill has the potential to expose and cut government waste, saving big money for the taxpayers.
Representative Peter Cownie, the leader for House File 352, thanked Iowans for Tax Relief for our support. He said:
• With a record budget over $7 billion this year and seemingly always growing, now is an ideal time for all spending to be justified.
• Families and businesses practice zero-based budgeting every day, week, and month. Government, spending the taxpayer dollar, should do the same.
• Zero-based budgeting is symbolic and real in saying we value every taxpayer dollar.
• The Legislative branch was originally put into place by our Founders as a check on the Executive and the bureaucracy. Zero-based budgeting is in accordance with this belief.
The future of House File 352 is uncertain. It now goes to the Senate, where opposition to zero-based budgeting is likely to be much stronger. This important bill is already helping to get Legislators thinking about how they can make the budget process better.
Another important bill that Iowans for Tax Relief is supporting is Senate File 277 which would phase-out the income tax on retirement income — pensions, annuities, Individual Retirement Accounts, etc. — over five years, beginning in 2017. This bill will likely face significant obstacles in the Senate. We believe it would provide income tax relief to retirees, and also benefit the entire state by encouraging a large part of our population to remain in Iowa rather than moving to a more taxpayer-friendly state.