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The Trouble with Tax Credits: The Iowa Legislature Could Take the Easy Way Out, but It Shouldn’t PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 11:10

Revelations last fall about the mismanagement of Iowa's film-tax-credit program came at a convenient time for the governor and the state legislature, as they provide an opportunity to evaluate tax credits at a time when the state budget is tight.

Governor Chet Culver has included two major cost-cutting features in the budget proposal he released last week: reorganizing state government (saving $341 million) and making changes to the state's more-than-two-dozen tax-credit programs (saving $52.5 million). The governor's budget proposal reads: "In Fiscal Year 2011, state tax credits are expected to cost the state $525 million if no legislative changes are made. ... [T]he Culver-Judge Administration believes that state tax expenditures must ... be scaled back in light of declining state revenues."

Culver did not specify how he wanted the legislature to achieve cost savings by $52.5 million, only referring to seven recommendations of his Tax Credit Review Panel, which released its report on January 8.

The legislature has one easy option to achieve the governor's cost-saving target. The review panel estimated that following its recommendations would result in first-year savings of $55.2 million and second-year savings of $106.3 million. Basically, lawmakers could rubber-stamp the report.

But this is also an opportunity for the state to re-think the way it does economic development through tax credits. If it's so inclined, the General Assembly could do a more-comprehensive overhaul of tax credits, making them better tools.

 
Iowa Politics Roundup: Culver Proposes $5.3-Billion Budget PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 29 January 2010 15:45

Governor Chet Culver has proposed a $5.3-billion state spending plan for Fiscal Year 2011 that uses more than $200 million from the state's cash reserves and $48 million in federal stimulus money, while reducing tax credits by $52.5 million and saving $341 million from state-government reorganization.

Culver said the budget would leave an ending balance of $117.3 million and would leave $265.2 million in the state's cash reserves.

"We have achieved this lower budget by continuing the 10-percent across-the-board budget cut made last fall in Executive Order 19 for most of the General Fund budget," Culver said. "Only 31 percent of programs or agencies would receive any increases over the revised FY 2010 budget ... reflecting the need to reduce state-government spending while preserving critical services for protecting vulnerable adults and children."

Culver's budget recommendations include a $6.9-million increase for the Department of Public Safety to prevent potential layoffs of up to 122 people, and a $25-million increase for the Department of Corrections to avoid layoffs at state prisons.

 
Democrats Promise Quick Action to Protect State Ban on Corporate Campaign Contributions PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Saturday, 23 January 2010 17:06

Iowa Democratic legislative leaders on Thursday promised to act "extremely quickly" to maintain the state's ban on corporate contributions to campaigns, following the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to strike down the central part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and allow corporations to spend as much as they wish to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress.

 
Culver, Branstad Report Millions Raised in 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 15 January 2010 15:35

Former Republican Governor Terry Branstad raised $1.55 million in the two and a half months after the start of his campaign and had $1.36 million left at the end of the year, while Democratic Governor Chet Culver raised $2.15 million in the past 12 months and ended the year with $2.59 million in his campaign chest.

"These fundraising numbers posted by the two governors forebode a very vigorous and spirited statewide campaign ahead," observed Pete Jeffries, senior counsel for Republican Jim Nussle's 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

 
Iowa Politics Roundup: State Likely to Remain First in 2012, Miller Says PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 08 January 2010 14:47

Iowa is likely to retain its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in 2012, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller -- a member of the Democratic Change Commission -- announced following the December 30 report of the commission.

The 2012 Iowa caucuses will be held in early February 2012, along with caucuses or primaries of Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Miller said at a Statehouse news conference.

 
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