Here we go again. The end of the legislative session and the legislature claims once more there is no money.
Where the hell did the money go? Tax breaks for businesses for the most part.
Had Branstad’s administration not given tax cuts to businesses without consulting the legislature we would probably OK. As it is, we are at the very beginning of a huge downhill slide in revenue. These revenue cuts will be showing up in budget cuts that will especially be seen in the education budget. So while the special interests that the Republicans have given breaks to are no longer paying what they once did, Iowa’s parents will see higher tuition fees on their kids university bills. Parents of younger children will see cutbacks in staff at their local schools and more crowded class rooms.
This is just the beginning.
Iowa CCI warned of this a few months back:
On January 27, Governor Branstad told the Iowa press corps that there is no room in his five-year budget for setting allowable school growth at six percent, as Senate Democrats propose, but the governor failed to give the reason why: because his “signature bipartisan achievement”, corporate property tax cuts, is so expensive that the cost will burn through Iowa’s budget surplus in just a few years without leaving any money left over for investing in the vital public services that everyday people and hardworking families depend on like education, environmental protections, infrastructure, and workforce development.
This looming budget reality is now one of the biggest political issue in the state, and the public debate surrounding it will continue through the remainder of the 2014 legislative session as well as through the November elections. But the issue also poses problems for Democrats, who are now in the position of advocating for policies like allowable school growth that their own votes on the corporate property tax cut bill have made it more difficult to afford.
Branstad’s corporate property tax cuts passed last year will cost the state $277 million next year and ultimately peak out at $380 million per year. Even with the backfill, county governments will face a $740 million shortfall over ten years, and the stories of how local government responds in the coming weeks of months will continue to fuel statewide discussions.
In the short-term, Iowa’s surplus will be able to absorb the cost of the corporate property tax replacements, but the state is now on a collision course with a budget reality few from either party want to admit: the corporate property tax cuts are simply unaffordable without sacrificing investments in bread and butter programs like preschool, K-12 education, community colleges, factory farm enforcement, water quality monitoring and cleanup, and job training.
“Governor Branstad says we can’t afford to invest in our schools anymore, but he won’t say why: because the corporate property tax cuts he championed are stealing the wealth of the state and robbing our children and our teachers,” said Ross Grooters, a train engineer and CCI Action Fund member from Pleasant Hill with a second-grader at Delaware Elementary School.
Iowa CCI proposed some remedies at the link. However, the session is nearly over and the time for remedies is nearly past.
As noted before, this is just the beginning. Unless the legislature takes back control of the budget and taxing from the Governor who wants to be king, Iowa will see continued decreasing education funding. This is by design based on what Republicans have done in other states.
It is part of their “starve the beast” strategy. This is where public institutions such as schools continually get their budgets either cut or frozen and naturally the services get worse. As schools get worse, Iowa’s parents will be looking for a fix to the problem. Republicans will claim that privatizing schools will be the solution. After seeing their schools deteriorate from underfunding, will Iowans buy into this bogus answer.
Time will tell. But first before they can sell the solution to a problem that doesn’t quite yet exist in Iowa, Republicans will have to create the problem. By starving the beast.
As Bob Dvorsky said last week, the real solution is November. Lets restore a legislature that puts Iowans first.