Republicans are always whining about their taxes being too high. The tea party has elevated this self-serving argument to dizzying new heights, constantly screaming about having to pay for this and that thing that they don’t personally use or can afford to buy.
Well, liberals and progressives could claim that argument too, if we wanted to. How about in this instance we all scream about the fact that we paid taxes based on the idea that our elected officials in Des Moines were going to fund programs that benefit everyone and be an investment in the future, such as education, clean water and infrastructure. Then instead of using our tax dollars for the common good, Branstad and the GOP underfund these programs and turn around and give the money away, like fake Santa Clauses, doling out their shadily acquired holiday bag of goodies in order to curry favor and win votes.
Is fifty-four dollars enough to blind and gag every person in this state? Or will it open our eyes enough so that we can throw these charlatans, Branstad and his GOP cronies, out of office for good? Read on.
The $54 question
by Mike Owen, Iowa Policy Project
Breaking news out of Des Moines is that many Iowa taxpayers will be eligible for an extra $54 tax credit.
This is the result of one of the most short-sighted pieces of legislation passed by the Iowa General Assembly in recent years. Lawmakers created what they called the “Taxpayers Trust Fund,” which we should call the “Giveaway Slush Fund.” It’s a pot of money to dole out to taxpayers and boast about at election time. Chances are, the “givers” won’t give you the whole picture.
Their game is an illusion, a political parlor trick: Hold down funding for key priorities, such as K-12 education, or universities, and then when revenues create a surplus, call it an “overpayment” by taxpayers.
Does anyone really believe their spin? The $120 million to be given away represents easily $120 million in services that could have been provided. For K-12 alone, a little over half of it could have been used this year to fully pay the state’s share of allowable growth at the 4 percent level lawmakers authorized. Instead, state funding only supports half of the state share.
By shortchanging school districts with funding for only 2 percent allowable growth this year despite strong revenues, lawmakers compounded a trend of squirreling away big dollars while claiming poverty. This way, they have given themselves $120 million to spend on dessert — the Giveaway Slush Fund — by choosing not to pay the state’s share of the bill for the meat and potatoes: school aid.
One Iowa columnist who has seen through this is The Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu, who noted Sunday: “Doling out money piecemeal is a gimmick that may bring smiles to some faces but it can’t take the place of sound and consequential actions.” She’s right.
Is it really worth it to you to receive the $54, instead of putting adequate and appropriate funding back into our education system? Or cleaner water? Or safer streets? Or, well, you get the idea.
Give me a break. On second thought, don’t.