While the rhetoric being channeled through media outlets is how the legislative majority is defending the interests of middle class citizens of Iowa, a look at some of the policy changes that are being implemented proves this is not the case. From shifts to property tax to the increases in traffic and court fines, costs are being increased on Iowans every day this legislature is in session. The property tax increases are as follows:
Fiscal Year 2011
Shortfall to fully fund School Aid Formula $167 million
Homestead Property Tax Credit $11.6 million
Ag Land Tax Credit $2.2 million
Mental Health Property Tax Relief $13.8 million
Total $194.6 million
When you add the $337.3 million in increased property taxes that shifted from the state in FY09 and FY10, you have a total of $531.9 million which will show up in the tax statements of Iowans.
In my district, the following amounts of state aid will be cut from my school districts:
School boards have spending authority to pass the allowable growth cuts on to property taxes. The instructional support program cuts can not be recouped in this way.
Rural Water Increases
Another controversial policy that was approved by the majority is language that made rural water districts subject to union contract negotiations which will result in increased water bills for all rural water users.
The Senate passed the Justice System bud
get earlier this week, but before it did, it increased fines to the tune of $9.7million. This may “ring a bell” because last year the majority party increased court costs $21.3 million. The increased fines contained in the Senate bill impact hundreds of violations and vary widely in the amounts charged. Many fines will see a $10 increase. All speeding tickets fall into this category. A large number of other charges will increase significantly For example, failure to obey a traffic signal will go from $35 to $100. Failure to maintain control of your vehicle will go from $35 to $100.
Over 32,000 Iowans are charged with failure to wear a seat belt every year, making it one of the most common offenses in the state. That fine will increase from $25 to $50. What must be considered along with these increases is that each one is also assessed a 35% criminal penalty surcharge. For instance, last year there were 32,220 violations of failure to maintain safety belts that will generate with the total new fine of $127.50, a total of $4,108,050. That’s a lot of money for just one type of violation. The total estimated revenue from this new fine schedule could generate $9.7 million in new revenue, but because of the failure of those who refuse to pay, the state could only receive $9.1 million.
These new taxes on Iowans do not take into account the HUGE Medicaid liability the state will have to assume with the federal standards written into the recently passed Health Reform Act. It is no wonder the Tea Party movement has gained a ground swell of support! Iowans are strong & resilient. I believe we will arise to the challenge left by this legislative year, which the Legislative Service Agency still says has a $1billion spending gap facing us when we return next January.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me during the interim. I can be reached at 641-634-2227, or firstname.lastname@example.org