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Your Capitol Voice by Representative Bobby Kaufmann
Last week featured movement on one of my top legislative priorities. I have been contacted more about this issue than any other this session. This week the House passed its property tax reform bill. Make no mistake – inaction by the legislature will result in large property tax increase for commercial, residential and agriculture tax payers. Home-owners’ property taxes are tied to agriculture productivity in a formula that looks back at five-year averages. Today’s commodity prices are at record highs meaning the five-year rolling average is going to allow homeowner’s property taxes to increase significantly.
When it comes to commercial property taxes, our small-town businesses are saddled with the third highest commercial property taxes in the nation. The House version passed with 52 Republican votes and 2 Democratic. On the agriculture and residential side, there is currently a 4% cap on annual increases. A 4% increase every year to homeowners and small farmers is not acceptable. The House bill puts a 2% cap on ag and residential property taxes. Commercial property taxes are currently assessed at 100%. The House plan would cut the assessment value down to 80% over four years.
I steadfastly believe that when our local businessmen and businesswomen are allowed to keep more of their own money, they will spend that money to invest in their business, buy more products, or hire more help. I believe that generally citizens and business owners can spend their money a lot better than Des Moines or Washington D.C.
The Senate has also passed their plan. Both of these plans will go to conference committee and a compromise will have to be ironed out. Too many years have gone by without true property reform. The Senate plan provides $100 million for targeted small-business tax rebates for their commercial property tax burden. I have a problem with a few of the stipulations. $50 million of the dollars are supposed to be reimbursed for tax rebates but the other $50 million is only used when the state revenues grow by 4%! The State of Iowa will likely not have 4% growth and I have a problem with telling our Main Street businesses that when times are bad, and they need it most, we are going to forego their relief. A business cannot formulate a future business plan based on uncertainty. This is the reason why the leading small business organization in Iowa (NFIB) endorses the House plan.
My other significant problem with the Senate plan is that the State of Iowa has a terrible track record of funding our property tax credits. And perhaps most importantly, the Senate plan does nothing to address the tremendous increases in residential and agriculture property taxes. I am willing to compromise with the Senate. I have no problem with their idea to focus on small businesses. I am also committed to make sure that our cities and towns do NOT see a loss of revenue. There is middle ground here…my hope is that a conference committee will come to a compromise that will bring about true property tax reform.
Rep. Lofgren and I and several others from both political parties co-sponsored a veteran’s bill that did not make it through the process last year. It was caught up in a battle in the Senate and was an unfortunate side effect of this political battle. We got the bill through the House this session with strong bipartisan support and this time it passed the Senate and it is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
HF 361 will be the first step in setting up a nationwide network of outdoor activities (e.g. hunting, fishing) for disabled veterans. The bill will charge disabled vets from other states an Iowa resident hunting fee. Other states are and will be doing the same, hence a network of affordable therapeutic opportunities for our returning heroes. This bill’s champion is Chuck Geertz, a Tipton resident and Commander of the Muscatine VFW.
I heard my dad say many times that it is the responsibility of non-veterans to make sure our veterans are not forgotten and it is our responsibility to make sure returning vets are treated fairly and their problems are heard and acted upon if possible. This bill is one alternative to deal with the myriad of physical and mental health issues that often accompany returning veterans. I plan to proactively continue my dad’s dedication to our veterans and be a strong voice for them.
I already have plans for more legislation including a fix on some issues and problems of vets going back to school, making sure our local county veterans offices have enough resources, and remembering our World War II and Civil War veterans in this the 70th and 150th anniversaries of these conflicts.
Another bill I want to mention is one that will officially exempt our county fairs from tax assessment. Right now, all County Assessors in Iowa (including Cedar, Muscatine and Johnson) are doing that. There are five counties, however, that are assessing their fairs, and there is fear that this five will turn into more. I would hope most Assessors would be like the three from my District and not assess the county fairs, but this can change and there is little we can do if it does. To safeguard against that, this bill places the restriction in the code of Iowa. Our fairs often operate on a small margin. Our fairs are also one of the most important educational activities in rural areas. This bill is the right thing to do and I will do everything I can to make this happen in the House.
Bobby Kaufmann, Republican, represents District 73 in the Iowa House
We had another successful week in the House. Several more budget bills moved through the process and were sent to bipartisan conference committees where they will hopefully find resolution quickly.
As the budgets have been moving through the House and Senate, it has become clear that Democrats have already begun to surpass their own budget targets.
In February, House Republicans and Senate Democrats each released their budget targets. At that time, Senate Democrats proposed spending $6.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2014 ($487 million more than House Republicans) resulting in an 11 percent increase in state General Fund spending over last year’s level. The Senate proposal spends over $1.05 for every dollar of state revenue.
By contrast, the House Republican budget spends 98 cents for every dollar of state revenue. The Fiscal Year 2014 proposal by House Republicans spends $6.4139 billion. This is a 3 percent increase over last year’s spending level and it protects priority services in the areas of education, health and human services and public safety.
Over the last 20 years, state revenue has averaged 3.4 percent growth.
As budgets have been working through the legislative process over the past few weeks, it has become clear that Senate Democrats have already surpassed their own unsustainable budget targets. The budgets that passed the Senate have spent nearly $47 million more than what their initial targets laid out. These changes have raised the amount of the Senate’s budget to an 11.6% increase in state General Fund spending over last year’s level, and they still have not acted on the Standings bill.
The House Republicans’ budgets outline principles used to get the state’s fiscal house in order:
• Republican budgets do not spend more money than the state takes in;
• Republican budgets do not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses;
• Republican budgets do not intentionally underfund entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget;
• Republican budgets will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. My office phone is (515)281-3521 or email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the liberal solution to almost any problem?
The Gang of Eight immigration plan is a great example. This bill would grant amnesty to illegal immigrants -- and expand government by granting them access to our trillion-dollar welfare programs.
These programs not only cost taxpayers like you a pretty penny but stifle upward mobility and weaken our work culture.
Furthermore, the bill ignores the spending caps Congress already passed. That means it will lead to more reckless and unaccountable spending. My colleague Romina Boccia calls it a "Trojan horse for spending."
Does this seem fair?
You have been playing by the rules your whole life. The four million people waiting years for legal entry into our country have been following the rules too. Now, it seems that liberals favor those who do not abide by our country's laws.
The Heritage Foundation will not let this travesty go unanswered. We are one of the only organizations looking at the cost to taxpayers, and we are planning a big push to alert the American people.plan to start reining in spending and limiting government. Instead of expanding welfare programs, we should be cutting spending.
But we need your help.
Your gift to Heritage by April 30 will get this plan into the hands of our lawmakers and policy makers in Washington, holding them accountable to principles of fiscal responsibility.
Thank you for your commitment to the conservative movement. Together we can reign in liberal spending and help reduce taxes.
Sen. Jim DeMint, President
Representative Bobby Kaufmann
Education reform and funding have finally come to a conference committee. This means the Senate plan and the House plan will be discussed and a compromise will be formed by the committee and then recommended to both chambers. I am very aware that our schools back home need to know their funding situation as they are dealing with their budgets. The House sent our bill to the Senate on February 20. Below is the timeline in each chamber recognizing that the process has been slow and there were opportunities for speeding it up without compromising due process.
The House 2013 timeline for the Education bill:
January 15 – HSB 4, the Governor’s language, introduced
January 21, 28, 29, February 5 – Subcommittees
February 13 – Education Committee consideration
February 14 – Ways and Means and Appropriations Committee consideration
February 19 – 20 – House Floor Consideration
February 20 – Message to the Senate
The Senate 2013 timeline for the Education bill:
January 22 – SSB 1058, the Governor’s language, introduced
January 31, February 6, and 14 – Subcommittees
March 4 – SSB 1228, the Senate’s language, introduced
March 6 – Subcommittee
March 7 – Education Committee consideration
March 26 – Senate Floor consideration
April 1 – HF 215, the House’s language, subcommittee
April 2 – Education Committee consideration
April 3 – Senate Floor consideration
This week Governor Branstad introduced the specifics for his alternative to Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion is not the perfect solution and the Governor’s plan is not a perfect solution either. The Senate has passed Medicaid expansion and I expect the House to pass the Governor’s alternative. At that point, the work of compromise will begin and there are signs that both sides are willing to move.
I will be working for a solution that addresses the positives and negatives of both the Governor’s plan and Medicaid expansion. We need to ensure that the working poor have coverage. (We have a joint program for the poor already.) If we don’t deal with this issue it will be difficult for those families who can’t afford coverage and the taxpayers who will ultimately pay the expenses. We will seek the best coverage and the most reliable and consistent funding. The Governor has made the following points:
-Medicaid has some fundamental problems. Patients are relegated to being recipients rather than participating in their health care. Medicaid is not insurance – it is merely a payment program.
-Each year the state’s Medicaid costs go up without any options for us to manage it. Expansion will only compound the problem.
-Once Medicaid is expanded, there are no take backs. Without any new kind of expansion, the number of Iowans covered by Medicaid has already grown by 65% since the year 2000 and the states costs have gone up 180%.
The Healthy Iowa Plan Alternative
-Would replace the expiring Iowa Care program that currently provides limited coverage to about 67,000 Iowans. Under Healthy Iowa, about 89,000 uninsured Iowans would gain access to care in their communities.
-The Healthy Iowa plan more closely resembles a private insurance plan and would provide incentives to health care providers to provide higher quality health care focused on better outcomes for patients.
-Finally, the Healthy Iowa plan requires participants to contribute a small amount to the program based on their income and includes incentives for Iowans to take action to improve their health.
I am torn. I am not convinced that blindly accepting the premise that the federal government will be able to keep its ever-growing financial commitment to us after three years is the proper way to plan for sustainability. The fact remains that our federal government is 16 trillion dollars in debt. Something will have to “give” and forcing more costs to the states will be one way. It is not unimaginable to me that in 3 years it would be a convenient cost savings for the feds to force Iowans to cover a significantly higher percentage of Medicaid costs than they are currently promised – forcing Iowans to make cuts elsewhere.
I appreciate the part of the Governor’s plan that promotes personal responsibility and provides incentives for better health care. However, I also understand that the Governor’s plan covers less people than Medicaid expansion. I look forward to hearing from you on this issue and I will be working for a compromise that takes the best parts of both plans and involves a decades-long vision and not just federal reliance.
Next week, I will write about my veteran’s bill that has survived funnel and the Cedar/Muscatine county man that inspired it.Representative Bobby Kaufmann
By John Hendrickson
A rediscovery is under way in regard to the presidencies of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge and their policies, which led to the “Roaring Twenties.” Several articles and books — both published and forthcoming — have been written in praise of the limited-government economic policies that consisted of both spending and tax reductions that occurred during the Harding and Coolidge administrations. Amity Shlaes, who is the Director of the 4 Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and a noted economic historian, has recently published Coolidge, a full-scale biography of President Calvin Coolidge.
One of the main elements to Coolidge is the issue of debt and the economy, which was a major issue in the 1920s just as it is today. Today the nation is confronted with a dangerously high level of debt, slow economic growth, high taxation, and high unemployment. The national debt is $16.4 trillion and rising and the federal government is running annual trillion-dollar deficits. The continuous high unemployment is said to be the “new normal” for society. The source of private- sector uncertainty is the escalating debt, expanded regulations, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the future of tax policy.
These were similar issues that confronted both President Harding and President Coolidge. In 1921, President Harding inherited a severe economic depression, which consisted of high unemployment, slow economic growth, a national debt, and high levels of taxation. The Harding administration called for restraint in regard to domestic policy, which was the direct opposite of the progressive philosophy. The Harding economic program consisted of cutting government spending, lowering tax rates, and paying down the national debt. The Harding administration began the successful policy of debt, tax, and spending reductions, which Coolidge continued after Harding’s death in 1923.
“Like Warren Harding, Coolidge understood the value of predictability in government: that a predictable tax policy and predictable policy toward debt were the basis for strong commerce,” wrote Shlaes. Coolidge was not just an advocate for economy in government, but his political philosophy was rooted in the principles of the American Founding. Coolidge was joined in his objective to limit government by his Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, who also served in the Harding cabinet, and by Herbert M. Lord, who served as Director of the Budget Bureau. The first Director of the Budget Bureau under Harding, Charles G. Dawes, was now Vice President.
The Coolidge administration’s commitment to limited government or economy in government was a success. As Shlaes described:
Under Coolidge, the federal debt fell. Under Coolidge the top income-tax rate came down by half, to 25 percent. Under Coolidge, the federal budget was always in surplus. Under Coolidge, unemployment was five percent or even three percent…Under Coolidge, the economy grew strongly, even as the federal government shrank.
Both cutting government spending and lowering the tax rate were Coolidge’s great priorities as President, and it was the Harding-Coolidge policies that led to the national economic prosperity.
In Coolidge, Shlaes also argues that “the extent of the Coolidge achievement is not known.” Coolidge, just as with Harding, is often neglected by historians because of his policies, and many scholars charge the Republican Presidents of the 1920s with negligence in causing the Great Depression. This thesis is especially popular with the pro-New Deal historians who champion the policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his fellow activist Presidents. Nevertheless, Shlaes makes a serious case for Coolidge in regard to presidential greatness. “Indeed, Coolidge was a rare kind of hero: a minimalist President, an economic general of budgeting and tax cuts,” wrote Shlaes. As Shlaes argues, “Coolidge is our great refrainer.”
Shlaes argument in favor of Coolidge is actually resurrecting the traditional conservative view of the presidency — that is, a restrained presidency as demonstrated by Presidents such as William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. The nation can learn a lot from Coolidge, whose commitment to constitutional principles desperately needs to be replicated today. As Shlaes wrote:
Perseverance, property rights, contracts, civility to one’s opponents, silence, smaller government, trust, certainty, restraint, respect for faith, federalism, economy, and thrift: these Coolidge ideals intrigue us today as well.
Shlaes argues that “perhaps the deepest reason for Coolidge’s recent obscurity is that the thirtieth President spoke a different economic language from ours.” “Our modern economic lexicon and the theories behind it cannot capture Coolidge’s achievements or those of his predecessor, Warren G. Harding,” argued Shlaes. This is certainly true, especially in the post-New Deal and Great Society eras in which the political culture of the nation has changed. It is debated whether or not Coolidge-style solutions can be applied to today’s problems, but policymakers would be well served to follow the Coolidge example. Whether the issue is cutting government spending, tax reduction, trade, or immigration — all issues front and center today — Presidents Harding and Coolidge provide a blueprint to solve these difficult problems.
By writing Coolidge, Amity Shlaes is changing the historiography of both the 1920s and presidential history, and she is reminding conservatives of not only a forgotten hero, but the need to rediscover traditional conservative principles.
John Hendrickson is a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute, Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Contact him at Public.Interest.Institute@LimitedGovernment.org.
Reprinted by permission from INSTITUTE BRIEF, a publication of Public Interest Institute.
To my friends and supporters in the First District:
The country we all love is in crisis. Tenets that made America the greatest country on Earth are under attack. Personal responsibility, fiscal sanity, the sanctity of life, constitutionally limited government and economic freedom are out of fashion in Washington DC. We all suffer when these principles are abandoned.
Most in Washington believe in the power of the government – I believe in the power of the individual, freedom and liberty. Millions of Americans, doing what’s best for their families every day, are the miracle of the free market system. This system of economic freedom has given our families the highest standard of living in the world. But in the last decade of big government, more regulations and out of control government spending has resulted in lower incomes, higher costs and a smaller middle class.
Perhaps the greatest threat to Iowan families is our ever increasing national debt. Our leaders in Washington are addicted to spending and their fiscal insanity threatens to destroy our country. Our national debt has grown by 50% under President Obama and is now a staggering $142,000 per household and is on track to be an astounding $227,000 for every family in Iowa by 2023! Our children and grandchildren should not start out their adult lives with this huge debt on their backs because we didn’t have the courage to deal with it.
The solution doesn’t lie in ever-increasing taxes and spending; in fact federal tax revenues are projected to set an all-time record this year. As President Reagan often said, “We can’t spend our way to prosperity”. He understood that real and lasting prosperity can only be generated through free enterprise in the private sector. There is simply not a way to raise taxes high enough to balance current spending levels. The only answer is to send people to Washington who will vote to STOP the out-of-control spending, keep our markets free, and return our country to the limited government mandated by the Constitution.
When I traveled throughout the First District during my 2012 campaign, it confirmed my belief that there is something special about Iowans. I have been humbled by the number of these Iowans who have reached out to me, asking me to run. With this outpouring of grassroots support, and the critical issues facing our country, I have decided to enter the race to represent Iowa’s First District in the United States Congress. I will carry the message of Thomas Jefferson to Washington when he said “the government that governs the best is closest to the people.” I will fight to lessen the influence Washington has over our lives here in Iowa. I will fight to keep more of our tax dollars in Iowa so those dollars may strengthen our schools, our infrastructure and our communities. Keeping your tax dollars here, keeps accountability here, where you have more control how and where they are spent.
Changing Washington will not be easy. But rest assured I am not interested in becoming a career politician; rather I will go to Washington with a passion and belief that we can restore the principles and tenets that made America great. I ask you to join our team today - TOGETHER we can make Iowan families stronger and brighten the future for many generations to come.
Thank you and I humbly ask for your support,
You may contact our campaign in the following ways:
Chelsy Askren, Director of Voter Outreach: Chelsy@RodBlum.com
Facebook Page: Rod Blum 2014
By Rep. Kraig Paulsen, Speaker of the HouseThis week, the House and Senate both released their budget targets for the year. This is a general number indicating how much each party is willing to spend along with a number for each specific budgeting area. These numbers give direction to the budget subcommittees on how much money they have to begin allocating to specific programs.
– by Jennifer Crull
MOUNT PLEASANT, IA – The Institute for Truth in Accounting’s second edition of The Financial State of the States spotlights the lack of truthful accounting and transparency in state government. Iowa is no different than most of the other states in the country. In reviewing the report, you can see that only six states have a surplus of money to pay their bills: Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The five states with the worst Taxpayer Burden are Connecticut, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, and Kentucky. While Iowa is neither in the top five nor the bottom five, I believe it is important for all Iowans to read about how the changes that have occurred over the last few years have made a difference in the financial health of our state and what it means to us as taxpayers.
As we take a specific look at Iowa in this year’s report, Iowa was short over a half-million dollars in meeting its bills for the year, which translates into a Taxpayer’s Burden of $500 per taxpayer in Iowa. This data is for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.
The Institute for Truth in Accounting also has a flyer about Iowa on their Website that looks at the state of Iowa’s budget as of the end of June 30, 2011. The flyer shows at the end of FY 2011, the Taxpayer Burden had dropped to $300, but it also reported that “the State of Iowa has promised $7.0 billion of pension and retirees’ health care benefits, but only $4.9 billion has been set aside to fund these benefits. Therefore, Iowa has less than 70 cents to pay for each dollar of promised benefits.” This is a massive liability for our state, and we have to hope that things will change in the state to correct this problem.
“As a taxpayer it is important to ask questions about our elected officials and find out what the plan is to deal with the lack of assets to pay for pension and retirees’ health-care benefits,” said Jennifer Crull, an IT Specialist with Public Interest Institute in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
“Truth in Our Accounting and Budgeting” from Public Interest Institute’s IOWA TRANSPARENCY NEWSLETTER is available at www.IowaTransparency.org.
For an interview or more information on this issue, contact Jennifer Crull, Public Interest Institute IT Specialist. Contact her at Public.Interest.Institute@LimitedGovernment.org.