This past week, the Senate Republicans offered a tax bill that would slash state revenue by nearly $1.2 billion annually by reducing individual and corporate income tax payments. It would also cause reduced revenue for the 2019 budget of more than $200 million.
The state’s present 2018 Fiscal Year budget is $35 million short. That problem has not been fixed, and next year’s 2019 Fiscal Year budget has not yet been presented. That’s a problem. If this bill becomes law, it would be the largest tax reduction in Iowa history. It seems to me that such a "monumental" bill called for more careful scrutiny than we were able to give it in a week.
Senator Randy Feenstra, chairman of the tax-writing Way and Means Committee, called it a “bold step.” I think a more accurate description would be a hasty proposal that is not worth the considerable risk, so I voted against SF2383.
This bill did not see the light of day until one week ago when Senate Republicans hurried it through the committee process so that it could be voted on the floor on Wednesday. The only meeting that allowed public comment featured input from dozens of lobbyists, but only two ordinary citizens due to the hurried scheduling. That process does not create sound legislation.
Proponents of the bill are not telling us where they will find the $200 million worth of cuts the bill would cause to next year’s budget. One senator suggested that increased revenue would pay for the cuts. That was the thinking of Kansas legislators when they passed a similar plan that crashed and burned in Kansas. That fiscal mismanagement has created a crisis that has caused massive cuts to education, public safety and other vital services. Kansas legislators had to repeal the Brownback Tax cuts to avoid a complete disaster and they still have a $900 million gap in their budget.
The “Kansas experiment” is a failure Iowa should not try to follow.
I would like to join with other sensible legislators to draft tax reform that improves Iowa’s system to be more fair; be more transparent; examine corporate tax credits; and take into consideration our present shaky budget situation.
Many aspects of the Senate tax bill make a great deal of sense. I hope that we can work together in a bipartisan way to improve this bill moving forward.
Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, represents Clinton County and northern Scott County in the Iowa Senate. To contact Sen. Hart when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at (515) 281-5933. Otherwise, she can be reached at (563) 210-1252. E-mail her at email@example.com.