From Rep. Linda Upmeyer –
Legislation is continuing to work its way through the subcommittee and committee process at the Statehouse this week. We are working hard to move legislation forward that has the best interests of Iowans in mind. Bills are being carefully reviewed as we continue to receive valuable input from Iowans across the state on a variety of subjects.
Last week I wrote about the first three bills that were filed in the Iowa House for the 2013 legislative session. All of these bills are aimed at ensuring Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money.
I’d like to take this opportunity to provide more details about our plan to reduce Iowans’ income taxes, contained in House File 3. This bill would allow Iowans to choose between the current system for paying income taxes or a simple 4.5 percent flat tax. Many Iowans have asked for an easier and fairer option.
The reform contained in House File 3 is as simple as it gets and provides options for Iowans to do what makes the most sense for their household budget. It also provides relief to low-income earners by eliminating the bottom two tax brackets. This proposal would make filing income taxes in Iowa as easy as possible and also may have the benefit of leaving more money in the pockets of taxpayers.
I have received a great amount of feedback from Iowans in regards to House File 1. This is the proposal to send the overpayment of taxpayer dollars back to its rightful owners – Iowa taxpayers. I wanted to provide some additional information. I hear your concern about making sure we do not leave the budget in a vulnerable position and I can assure you we are mindful of that everyday. That is why we are so committed to our budgeting principles. I am happy to report that the state has over $620 million in the cash reserve funds and emergency fund. Those “rainy day” funds are in addition to the ending balance and are not something we have any intention of changing.
Our proposal would send dollars back to Iowa taxpayers that have been collected in the Taxpayers’ Trust Fund. We established this fund in 2011 as a mechanism to return any excess revenue to hardworking Iowans, after ensuring the priorities of Iowans were properly funded.
The overpayment of taxes by Iowans is a fork in the road- do we want to travel down the path of more spending and growing government or do we want to take that money off the table by sending it back to taxpayers? House File 1 sets up a permanent mechanism that directs taxpayer payments that are above and beyond what the state needs, back to the taxpayers.
In other news, members of the subcommittee working on the Governor’s proposed education reform bill have met several times and are having meaningful discussions about how best to improve Iowa’s student-outcomes. Iowa was a top-ranked state for reading and math scores in the early 1990’s, but has slipped to the middle of the pack over the years. More and more employers are also reporting that our students are not graduating with the skills needed in the workforce.
Something must be done to ensure Iowa’s graduates are more competitive in today’s global economy. We will continue to hear testimony from Iowa parents, teachers, and business owners about the challenges facing our students in today’s classrooms and what is needed to move our state forward. In the coming weeks, after this important feedback is received, members of the Education Committee will bring forth legislation to be considered by the full House that has the success and achievement of Iowa students as the top priority.