Why don’t our local state legislators, Gary Mohr, Chris Cournoyer and Ross Paustian, trust their own city and county governments? They must think that the arbitrary 2 percent budget limitation they voted for, Senate File 634, and passed at 3 a.m. on April 25, will force their own local entities to more responsibly forecast and enact annual budgets. They want local governments (theirs?) to “think twice” before raising taxes.
Republican legislators state that constituents had complained to them about skyrocketing property taxes. Other than anecdotal evidence, this statement has not been verified in any meaningful way by them. If property taxes have escalated so radically, why is it that an analysis of state and federal data by Dave Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, shows that property taxes have remained at about 1.9 percent of personal income in the last decade? Republican legislators also have declared that the state retirement programs, IPERS and 411, won’t be affected, nor will emergency funds, by the 2 percent trigger.If that is the case, why were pension and emergency funds removed from their historic categories for budgeting and deliberately included in the 2 percent general fund trigger?
This bill puts yet another constraint on local government’s ability to responsibly fund its services. That is why it was so vigorously opposed by cities and counties throughout the state. The bill is now on the governor’s desk. Please do the right thing, Governor, show that you trust our city and county governments, and veto this bill.