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Reforms increase government accountability, transparency

April 22, 2010
By State Sen. Tom Rielly (D-Oskaloosa)
During these tough times, Iowans want to know that their tax dollars are helping create jobs and grow our economy so our state quickly recovers from the national economic recession. That’s why I supported several bipartisan efforts to make state government more transparent and accountable. These steps include:

Tax credit reforms that save money and invest better.

To prevent the sort of abuses exposed in the last year, we passed wide-ranging reforms that will ensure tax credits do more for Iowa families and small businesses. At the same time, we cut Iowa’s tax credit liability by more than $115 million.

The changes we made include suspension of the film tax credit program, cutting tax credits for large corporations while increasing small business incentives, and cutting other tax credit programs by 10 percent.

In addition, tax credits will be much more carefully and publicly scrutinized—just like the rest of the state budget. This new ongoing oversight will ensure that tax credits get results or are eliminated.

Find out how tax credits are being used here in Iowa by searching the Department of Economic Development database at

First-in-the-nation reforms to protect Iowa elections and voters.

On April 8, Governor Chet Culver signed landmark legislation making Iowa the first state to protect elections from unregulated cash from big corporations and shadowy organizations. The Legislature unanimously approved these reforms after the U.S. Supreme Court erased all rules and limits on corporate spending in political campaigns.

The new law will help prevent the voices of Iowans from being drowned out by a flood of anonymous, negative corporate ads. The goal is to provide everyone with a clear picture of how big corporations attempt to influence Iowa elections.

Corporations will be required to add “paid for by” statements on all communications; corporate leaders must give authorization when money is spent for or against a candidate; and corporations will be required to file regular electronic reports with the Campaign Finance Disclosure Board. In addition, foreign nationals are banned from making any

Making sure recovery dollars are used effectively.

During this national recession, federal and state recovery dollars are protecting the jobs of teachers, nurses, police officers and others who provide critical services to Iowans.

The new Iowa Accountability & Transparency Board will make sure Iowans know how federal recovery dollars are being spent to provide services and improve Iowa’s economy. Learn more about the board’s work at

State-level I-JOBS projects are tracked by the Iowa Finance Authority. The IFA reports quarterly on projects, money spent, federal money matched by state funds, and the number of jobs created or saved. You can track I-JOBS projects on a county-by-county basis at

Preventing misuse of taxpayer dollars.

The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee continues to investigate allegations that the Iowa Association of School Boards misused—or stole—taxpayer dollars, engaged in nepotism and had conflicts of interest.

The fourth hearing of the Legislature’s Oversight Committee is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 29 in the old Supreme Court Chambers at the Statehouse. This meeting is open to the public.

The Committee will hear from insiders, including current and former IASB staff, about what appears to be misuse of taxpayer money. You can also listen to recordings of previous hearings at

Shining a light on special interests.

It will be easier to track lobbying activity at the Statehouse thanks to a new law enacted this year. Using a Web site that is currently being developed, Iowans will be able to find out who’s hired a particular lobbyist, how much they’re paid and which legislation they’re lobbying for and against.

This is a legislative update from Senator Tom Rielly, representing Iowa, Poweshiek, and Keokuk counties, and portions of Mahaska and Tama counties.

To contact Senator Rielly when the Legislature is not in session, call him at 641-673-0359. E-mail him at

Article Photos

Sen. Tom Rielly



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