IFL: Taxes Are The Legislature’s Responsibility


He's not the king only the governor

He’s not the king only the governor

Buried deep in all of the messes that the Branstad Administration has created, there is a little known action going on in the Department of Revenue which will have dangerous consequences not just to the funding of vital services of programs that Iowans depend on, but could upset the delicate balance of power between our three branches of government and their powers within the Iowa constitution.

The Department of Revenue will be considering ARC 2239C, and administrative rule proposal. The rule, proposed by the state Department of Revenue, would apply to the state sales tax on manufactured products but would expand the exemption for items used in the manufacturing process. The price tag for this is somewhere between $30-90 million from the state’s funds.

When the Governor and House Republicans are saying that we cannot afford adequate school funding, moving forward with this rule seems unethical
(emphasis mine). When we allegedly cannot fund mental health institutes, moving forwards with this rule seems morally wrong. When we cannot show that there will be any value for Iowa workers’ wages, nor any link to job creation or retention, this seems like a corporate handout at the worst time possible.

But even more worrisome, we need to not just look at why it is a bad idea, we need to look at how they are going about it. The legislature has rejected this proposal before, as recently as two years ago. But in addition, the legislature has traditionally held that it has the sole authority to tax and spend, not the executive branch. The reasons for this stretch back to the American Revolution, and the slogan “no taxation without representation.” This is a bedrock of American democracy, and it is being undermined.

Normally a proposal such as this should have gone through the proper House and Senate committees, and voted on the floor by both chambers before being signed or vetoed by the Governor. That’s basic “Schoolhouse Rock” stuff we all learned as youngsters. This rule being implemented without legislative action threatens to undo the way our republic works. It doesn’t matter what party is in charge of the legislature and Governorship, this is a bad idea and the repercussions will last for a long time.

I guess the Governor is thinking “Why even have a legislative branch?” They apparently get in his way to rule by fiat, with legislators asking questions about his botched Medicaid privatization scheme, his plan to close mental health facilities, his plan to underfund our schools, and now this.

At first glance this is a bad proposal. But, we’ve never had a chance to work with our business counterparts to find a way that perhaps would give an opening to ensure that this can benefit workers or ensure that our goal here is really to create jobs, not just line the accounts of corporations operating in our state.

We’ve let the Department of Revenue know how we feel. However, the most important thing you can do is make sure that your friends, family, and community know what an injustice this is. The more we lift the veil on these shady practices, the more Iowans wake up and realize their government isn’t working for them anymore. Letters to the editor of your local newspapers are a good way to help bring this to light.

Elections of course have consequences. We will have the opportunity to turn this around, but we need your help. If you’d like to volunteer for the Labor 2016 campaign, please contact us HERE.


About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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