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ITR: Legislators need to be careful with one-time money

Money TreeBy Iowans for Tax Relief

 

The Iowa Legislature finally adjourned on Friday, June 5.  After many weeks of negotiations, leadership was finally able to come to a compromise budget agreement.  The final general fund budget approved by the Legislature spends $7.175 billion, but the Legislature also allocated an additional $135 million in one-time funds.

K-12 education spending was also resolved with Legislators approving a 1.25% increase in funding with an additional $55.7 million in one-time spending.  In the end Legislators were unable to come to an agreement on a 2-year school funding agreement; this leaves funding for the 2016-2017 school year on the table for the next Legislative session.

Overall, Iowa’s taxpayers should applaud Legislators for approving a budget that spends less than the state takes in and follows the 99% expenditure limit.  However, taxpayers and Legislators should be cautious to ensure that one-time spending approved in compromise end- of-session deals remains just that.  There will be strong temptation to continuously approve one-time spending year after year, defeating the purpose of the funds and their use in compromise.

While Legislators may have ended the session fairly well by passing a fiscally responsible budget, this Legislative session was not a great one for Iowa’s taxpayers.  Legislators passed a 45% tax increase on all Iowans by approving a ten-cents increase to Iowa’s motor fuel tax and then failed to pass any significant tax relief or reform.

There are so many actions the Legislature could take to benefit Iowa’s taxpayers.  Income tax relief, spending reform through budget limits, eliminating Iowa’s tax on retirement income; the list could go on and on.  Iowans for Tax Relief is extremely disappointed the Legislature failed to move taxpayer issues forward this year, but this same group of Legislators have an opportunity to do better next year.

Iowans for Tax Relief encourages Legislators to take this summer and fall to reenergize, listen to constituents, and come back to the Capitol ready to make changes that will bring true tax relief and reform.  Iowa’s taxpayers can’t continue to feed government’s ever-growing budget that is taking more and more of the family budget.  It is time for Legislators to get serious about cutting spending and providing tax relief.  After this disappointing year for taxpayers, Legislators have the opportunity to put the taxpayers first next year!