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Candidates Divided on Extension of Payroll-Tax Cuts PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Hannah Hess   
Monday, 29 August 2011 07:56

Division on tax policy provides an opportunity for a clustered field of Republican presidential candidates, who often sound identical on social and economic issues, to differentiate themselves.

During his recent swing through the Midwest, President Barack Obama urged Congress to extend a temporary payroll-tax break that allows the average American worker to keep $1,000 of a $50,000 salary rather than paying that money in taxes. Obama wants to extend for another 12 months the 2-percent tax cut that became effective on January 1.

Both Texas U.S. Representative Ron Paul and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich agree with the extension, their campaigns confirmed to last week. They support keeping the tax on workers’ wages at a 4.2-percent rate, rather than the normal 6.2 percent rate, as a way to keep more money in the pockets of middle-income Americans.

But former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann approach the payroll-tax cut differently, with an eye toward job creation, deficit reduction, and businesses.

Iowa Politics Roundup: Perry, Palin Excluded from Ames Straw Poll Ballot PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Hannah Hess and Lynn Campbell   
Monday, 25 July 2011 10:10

The ballot for the August 13 Ames Straw Poll will include nine names, but former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Texas Governor Rick Perry are notably absent from the list.

By a 6-5 vote, members of Iowa’s Republican State Central Committee on Saturday determined that the final ballot will include former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

That’s in addition to the six candidates guaranteed a spot by spending at least $15,000 each to reserve space at the Ames Straw Poll: Minnesota U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, former Godfather’s Pizza Chief Executive Officer Herman Cain, Michigan U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter, Texas U.S. Representative Ron Paul, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

Iowa Legislature Adjourns Third-Longest Session in State’s History PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 01 July 2011 08:37

Iowa lawmakers on Thursday adjourned the third-longest legislative session in state history with Republicans touting their success in being fiscally responsible and Democrats lamenting what they saw as too little funding for education.

Adjournment finally came on the last day of the state fiscal year and the 172nd calendar day of session. The only times that the legislature has taken longer to adjourn its regular session were 1967 (when lawmakers adjourned July 2 after 175 days) and 1978 (when session adjourned July 15 after 188 days).

“We all just want to go home,” said Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley).

The Iowa House adjourned first at 3:36 p.m. after 61-31 passage of the health-and-human-services budget bill and closing-day speeches by leaders. The Iowa Senate followed by approving that same bill 27-18 and adjourning at 3:43 p.m. Both chambers also approved a one-month budget that continues state services while giving the governor 30 days to review the just-passed bills.

State Moves to Close 37 Workforce-Development Offices as Legislators Object PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 19:23

Iowa Workforce Development is shutting down 37 field offices statewide, despite top legislators from both political parties saying they oppose the plan.

The plan is expected to most affect rural parts of the state. Lawmakers say it would force some unemployed Iowans to drive 80 miles to one of 16 regional workforce-development offices, rather than having a satellite office that’s closer to home.

It also would spur the layoff of 85 state employees and the elimination of another 40 vacant positions, according to the department. However, most of those who would be laid off are union members, and collective-bargaining agreements would allow them to use their seniority to bump workers with less experience.

“Maybe they should change their name to Workforce Un-Development,” said state Senator Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo), co-chair of the legislature’s Economic Development Appropriations subcommittee. “Everything they’ve been doing has reduced services to dislocated workers. I’m very disappointed.”

Iowa Leaders “Inches” Apart on Budget but “Miles Apart” on Property-Tax Reform PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 13:26

Governor Terry Branstad and legislative leaders were “a few inches away” Monday from agreeing to a state budget, but were “miles apart” on their competing property-tax plans, according to a key Democratic leader.

The Iowa legislature this week entered its seventh week of overtime, with less than three weeks remaining to come to resolution and avoid a state-government shutdown.

Iowa Senate Appropriations Chair Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) announced a key development Monday morning in reaching a budget deal that could bring adjournment to the 2011 legislative session. Senate Democrats agreed to spend less than $6 billion in the budget year that begins July 1, which is nearly $400 million less than they originally proposed.

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