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ITR: Winners and losers of 2015 legislative session

Iowa Capitol 1By Iowans for Tax Relief

 

At the end of each Legislative session there are always a few winners and often many losers.  One would think the taxpayers who elected each Senator and Representative would always end up in the winners’ bracket, but this year the taxpayers are losers.  We wish we could write a glowing post-session review listing many pro-taxpayer achievements this year, but it’s obvious to all that taxpayers were the big losers of the 2015 Legislative session.

Iowans for Tax Relief believe the taxpayers of Iowa were big-time losers for several reasons:

  • Almost No Taxpayer-Friendly Bills Were Seriously Considered in Either Chamber.  Bills that create large tax reform and relief rarely make it to the Governor’s desk, but they do normally receive significant consideration in committees and several are often passed on the floor of one chamber.  This year taxpayer-friendly bills received little or no attention in committee or on the floor.  Good bill drafts for across-the-board income tax reduction, optional flat-rate income tax, tax-free retirement income, and many more positive changes were available.  Just because a bill has little chance of being signed into law doesn’t mean Legislators should get a free pass.  Pro-taxpayer Legislators and leadership in both chambers need to take initiative in advancing taxpayer-friendly legislation every year, gradually building more support!
  • 45% Tax Increase on all Iowans.  It’s a sad day when many Legislators and media outlets say the major accomplishment of a Legislative session is a 45% tax increase that impacts all Iowans.  Legislators made a big mistake when they increased Iowa’s motor fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon.  Not only has it increased the price of fuel and hurt Iowans’ family budgets, but there have been numerous reports already of misuse of the money extracted by this gas tax increase.
  • One-Time Funding of Ongoing Expenses.  Legislators can brag all they want about passing a balanced budget, but the truth is more complicated.  In addition to that balanced budget, leadership of both parties took more than $120 million from state cash accounts and spent it for one-time funding of many expenses.  Compromise is difficult in a split Legislature, but taxpayers should not be the ones paying for a bad solution to Legislative deadlock.  Using one-time funding to create additional spending, when both the general fund budget and education funding were already receiving an increase, is deceiving.  Spending one-time money for expenses that the recipients will want to continue in future years sets a dangerous precedent.  It also depletes money that should be given back to the taxpayers through tax relief.

So if taxpayers are the losers of this session who are the winners?  Big-money lobbyists, road contractors, tax-and-spend politicians, and budget-bloated bureaucrats, all enabled by the Legislature’s leadership.  Leadership of both parties in the Iowa House and Senate failed taxpayers this session!  They failed taxpayers by refusing to advance pro-taxpayer legislation while using heavy pressure and tricky tactics to ram through the gas tax increase.

Iowa’s taxpayers deserve better representation!  Big-money lobbyists write campaign checks but they are not the ones who pay state government’s bills and they don’t elect Iowa’s Legislators unless too many voters are asleep.  All Legislators, and especially leadership of both parties, need to remember this.  Each Legislator was elected to serve the taxpayers, not the other way around.

Taxpayers are the big losers this session, but they will remember and choose different winners and losers if things don’t change in 2016!