By Senator Tim Kapucian
This week at the Capitol seemed to move quickly as we worked on several bills that appropriated money to various state agencies. Thanks to one particular bill that passed in the Senate, if you accidentally run a stop sign your fine will increase three-fold.
The Majority party is not afraid to admit that raising traffic fines on things like not wearing a seat belt or speeding will bring in more state revenue. This is a poor attempt to offset the terrible budgeting practices that have been taking place the last few years. Raising traffic fines and fees can bring in as over $8 million and doing this on the back of hard working Iowans is not the answer to Iowa's budget problems. Now with just days to go in the session, the current party in power has passed a bill that will make significant changes to Iowa's tax code. But, those changes will not be for the better. Instead, they will mean higher and more burdensome taxes for Iowans at a time when we can least afford it. There is no question that this bill is a massive $122 million dollar tax increase. The Governor's across-the-board budget cut enacted this past fall forces local school districts to spend their cash reserves prior to levying for more property tax revenue. While it may initially sound like a good fix, in fact, the cash reserves that are used will simply be filled up with more local property taxes- making any savings to the property taxpayer null and void. Republicans filed a bill offering alternatives to cutting positions and funding but it was, unfortunately, not brought up on the Senate Debate calendar.
The language requiring schools to pay back any cuts made to these funds due to the October 2009 across-the-board cut has been removed from the bill. The Senate passed the amended bill on Tuesday afternoon. The bill will now be taken up by the House. While this change greatly improves the bill, I am still concerned about the fact that these funds will be exempt from future across-the-board cuts, which is why I supported an amendment (S-5263) that would strike this language from the bill. Unfortunately, the amendment failed on a party-line vote.
We should be empowering our local school boards to manage their budgets as they best see fit, which would include allowing them to have the authority to trim any school expense. Our local school boards know best how to balance their budgets and we should allow them to do their job. The next scheduled forum will be aSaturday, March 20 in Grundy Center at 10:00 at the Grundy Center Community Center. As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Thank you for letting me represent you at the capitol. Please feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 515 281-3371. Senator Tim Kapucian -Grundy, Tama, Benton and Iowa Counties