You might have heard of the famous "duck test." The reasoning goes that if something looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck -- it probably is a duck. This well-known test can be used to better understand one of the biggest and most controversial bills of the entire session.
Now with just days to go in the session, the current party in power has passed a bill that, upon Governor Culver's signature, will make significant changes to Iowa's tax code. But, those changes will not be for the better. Instead, they will mean higher and more burdensome taxes for Iowans at a time when we can least afford it.
There is no question that this bill is a massive $122 million dollar tax increase. If it forces Iowans to pay more to the state like a tax increase, if the state increases revenues to continue to uncontrollably spend like a tax increase and if it will hurt job creation like a tax increase -- then it probably is a tax increase. Unquestionably, it passes the infamous "duck test".
Last fall, when the scandal involving the Culver Administration's mishandling and mismanagement of Iowa's film tax credit program erupted, legislators decided to use the opportunity to evaluate all of Iowa's tax credits. Whether it is tax credits or any government program, we believe in constant oversight and rigorous examination. Simply put, if it is efficient and encourages job creation - it should continue. If it is wasteful and ineffective -- it should end.
Instead of using the opportunity to carefully and deliberately make positive changes to Iowa's tax code, the current majority party, with the blessing of Governor Culver, took the occasion to completely end or drastically reduce many important tax credits that are used by the private sector to spur economic growth and stimulate job creation.
We offered a common sense amendment that would promote necessary transparency and accountability provisions while stripping out every one of the tax increases. Unfortunately, it was defeated by those who are comfortable with tax increases and who demand continued and increased government spending. Only one member of the majority party joined with all of us in support of this vital amendment.
Their tax increase means government will have even more of Iowans' tax dollars to spend. Iowans are already well aware of what has happened the last three years when Governor Culver and his legislative allies drastically overspent and created unbalanced budgets that are not reflective of the true priorities of Iowans. There is little evidence to suggest the past budgeting mistakes of the last three years are not going to be repeated again by Governor Culver and the current party in power on Iowa's new budget.
This bill is just the latest in a series of tax and fee increase bills that will hit ordinary Iowans hard. Earlier this week, the current majority, in partisan fashion, passed a bill that increases fines and fees by as much as 400 percent for those who are pulled over for speeding, seat belt and other traffic violations. It was designed to generate an additional $8 million dollars annually that will be used to only continue to grow government. Government gets more to spend at the expense of hardworking Iowans.
Additionally, most Iowans are aware of the massive job-killing property taxes that are being put onto the backs of local property taxpayers because of the reckless overspending and irresponsible budgeting of the last three years. When Governor Culver and his allies broke the promise that was made to our students, schools made deep cuts and property taxes were increased to the tune of approximately $270 million dollars.
As 111,000 Iowans are unemployed with many who remain underemployed, we believe this is the wrong time to be raising taxes and fees on Iowans. This bill, like many of the other of tax and fee increases passed by this Legislature and supported by this governor, highlights the bright line of difference between the two parties.
While we are standing up for the taxpayers and are the party of jobs, they pass bills that will only make it more difficult for long-term private sector jobs to be created.
As the 2010 session draws to a close in the coming days, we will continue to be the watchdog for the taxpayers of Iowa as the remaining deliberations over Iowa's next budget conclude. Instead of spending the state into debt and raising taxes on Iowa families and job creators, we believe we need to get serious about creating jobs, protecting the taxpayers and streamlining government. We know those are the same priorities that the vast majority of Iowans have and that is why we will continue to stand up for those beliefs and those values every chance we get.