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From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer: January 20, 2011

We had a short, but busy and productive week at the Capitol.  In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Legislature did not convene until Tuesday.

Demonstrating our commitment to reforming Iowa’s property tax system, a subcommittee led by Rep. Tom Sands gathered on Tuesday morning to get to work on this legislation.  Many legislators talk about reducing property taxes while on the campaign trail, but their enthusiasm seems to fade when they arrive in Des Moines.  Some seem to settle for small bites around the edges, but do nothing to solve the bigger problem.  We are dedicated to giving the taxpayers of Iowa more of their hard-earned money back.  As we have said from day one, we are committed to passing legislation that will deliver significant relief and genuine reform to all classes of Iowa’s property taxpayers.

Consider these startling facts- over the last ten years, school rates have increased 60 percent, county rates have risen by 64 percent, and city rates have gone up by 74 percent.  Over the same time period, Iowans’ personal income only grew by 46 percent.  While individual communities may vary, as these are statewide averages, these kinds of out-of-control tax hikes are not sustainable.  We will do our part to decrease the tax burden on Iowans.

We know that ALL Iowans deserve to see relief in their tax bill.  Our proposal will be broad-based as we work to ensure the tax burden is not shifted to any class of property.  Due to current law on the rollback and past budgeting practices, if we do nothing, the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa are staring down the barrel of a $2.3 billion property tax increase over the next ten years, with the majority of that falling to homeowners.  The task before us is not easy, but we must continue to push forward in order to implement true property tax reform.

On Wednesday, the Legislature had the privilege of hearing from Major General Tim Orr, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, as he presented the Condition of the Iowa National Guard.  Members of the National Guard do a tremendous job of keeping our state and country safe.  As Major General Orr noted in his speech, it is an organization that continues to be “Mission Focused and Warrior Ready.”  He also informed us that for the first time since 2001, the Iowa National Guard does not have any units currently deployed overseas.  I greatly appreciate the National Guard’s leadership, service, and loyalty to our wonderful state.

Wednesday was also Veterans Day at the State Capitol, which brought many Iowa veterans and active servicemen from all branches of the U.S. military to Des Moines to visit with their local legislators.  Their dedication and sacrifice for our country never fails to leave a lasting impact on me.  I have great admiration and appreciation for the daily sacrifice that our armed services give to protect this great nation we call home.  The families of those who serve also deserve to be recognized and thanked for their sacrifice.  We are forever grateful for all of our servicemen and their families.

Next week promises to be as busy as this past week.  We will continue to work on the issues that Iowans care most about- reducing the size of government and creating jobs.  I greatly appreciate your feedback and would love to hear any questions, comments, or concerns you may have.  As always, please feel free to contact me anytime at linda.upmeyer@legis.state.ia.us or 515-281-4618.

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