Governor Branstad released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 today. I am still working through all the details (the proposal is pretty thick), but here is the big picture:
• $300 million corporate tax cut
• $200 gaming tax increase
• 2/3 funding for preschool with no quality standards
• $6.1 billion General Fund (compared to last year’s $5.3 billion)
• Cut funding for K-12 education
I agree we can cut Iowans’ taxes as part of a balanced budget that funds our priorities. House Democrats have already proposed and voted in favor of targeting cuts to 98% of Iowa families and small businesses with fewer than 35 employees (HF 45, H-1012 and H-1013, respectively). These are the folks that will use the money to buy clothes for their kids or hire that new employee for whom they weren’t sure they had the cash flow. Those purchases and hires have ripple effects that strengthen our economic recovery.
So here are the choices. Gov. Branstad and House Republicans choose a $300 million dollar corporate tax cut, protecting a full-time chef at the Governor’s mansion (HF 45, H-1030 to H-1017) and ending 6200 jobs (HF 45: rail 200, preschool 1200, Values Fund 5000).
I choose preschool for 20,000 Iowa kids and families, demanding Iowa’s classrooms prepare our kids with 21st century skills (HF 45 eliminated Iowa Core standards), creating jobs (HF 45), and targeting tax cuts to 98% of Iowa families and small businesses.
The budget reality is Iowa has an opportunity. The sky is not falling. We have a choice. We are not forced to cut the budget in half. Our economy is recovering based on the strength of the agriculture and other industries. I choose to look forward, move forward with our strengths, continue looking for efficiencies and improve our business climate.
Let the debate begin.
On to the update…
In This Issue
1. Republicans Offer Lowest School Funding Rate in History
2. New Website Helps Iowa Small Business
3. Veterans Trust Fund Continues to Grow
4. Capitol Visits
Republicans Offer Lowest School Funding Rate in History
For the first time in nearly 40 years Iowa’s governor proposed 0% growth for Iowa schools over the next two fiscal years. House Republicans followed with two bills that passed an education subcommittee this week setting both the allowable growth rate and the categorical allowable growth rate at 0% for fiscal year 2012. Since the school aid formula was created in 1973, there has never been a 0% allowable growth rate for schools.
0% growth results in a $1.3 million cut to the Cedar Rapids Community School District.
Statewide Property Tax Will Increase
The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates 0% growth will increase property taxes by $70 million. Funding for school budgets is a mix of state aid and local property taxes, along with a small amount (less than 4%) from federal sources. The ratio of property tax and state aid supporting a district's budget varies. Property tax rich districts receive less state aid, property tax poor districts receive more. Low allowable growth, by function of the school funding formula, means a greater burden for local property taxpayers.
New Website Helps Iowa Small Business
A new website launched by the Iowa Department of Economic Development is helping small businesses find resources necessary to grow. The Iowa Small Business Assistance Gateway connects small businesses with resources to start, manage, and grow their business. The website, a result of legislation passed last year, contains information on registrations, certifications, permits, plan reviews, and other requirements. In addition, the website directs users to small business webinars, meetings, and articles related to small businesses in Iowa.
The Iowa Small Business Assistance Gateway is located at: www.iowa.gov/business
Veterans Trust Fund Continues to Grow
Since July 2008, the Iowa Lottery has raised over $6 million for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. The Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs recently released their annual report on the fund. As of the end of 2010, the fund has a balance of nearly $11.7 million. Each year, the Lottery can create two instant-scratch and two pull-tab games. All the profits go to the trust fund.
The trust fund was established in 2003 to provide services to Iowa veterans. $35,400 of the fund is interest available to spend on eligible claims. Trust fund expenditures are separated into three different categories: Veteran Service Officer grants, Honor Guard reimbursement, and assistance to veterans in need. Veterans must meet specific income and asset guidelines to qualify for trust fund assistance.
You can read the full annual report here. In addition, the following link will direct you to an application for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund: https://va.iowa.gov/images/Trust_Fund_Application.pdf.
This week saw a number of folks visiting the Capitol from Eastern Iowa. The United Way of East Central Iowa participated in United Ways of Iowa Day on the Hill on Tuesday. I talked with Lois Buntz, Leslie Wright, Sarah Olson, Kay Jackson, Laura Bergstrom, Marvin Holmes-Leopold, Caite Moore, Steve Ovel, Judy Stoffel and Eugenia Vavra. Christine Scheetz and Lily French with United Way of Johnson County also visited. John Linge, Gary Hinzman, Bruce Vander Sanden, Rebecca Neades and Sara Mentzer also stopped at the Capitol on Tuesday.
Wednesday saw a visit from members of the Cedar Rapids Physician-Hospital Organization including Dr. Mark Tyler, Dr. Tork Harman, Cindy Roehr, Leslie Schwarting, and Jeanette Werling. I also saw Jeff Capps with Habitat for Humanity.
Have a great weekend!