WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Jan. 20, 2010 - Lawmakers sent legislation to the Governor yesterday requiring school districts to use their cash reserves before levying to raise taxes on property owners. While House File 2030 may delay property tax increases in some districts, it will not address the shortfall in state aid caused by Iowa's across-the-board budget cuts, which will result in higher property taxes according to the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).
"Until Iowa enacts real budget reform, our government will continue to balance the state budget on the backs of property tax payers," says Lang. "Reform is necessary for a long-term stable and predictable budget."
To improve the state's budgeting process, Farm Bureau members are asking decision makers to establish an affordable state budget that will: 1) fund Iowa priorities and lessen the potential shifts in property taxes; 2) ensure that the state's emergency funds are at a level sufficient to protect priorities when revenues are declining; 3) create fiscal responsibility by not using one-time resources to fund on-going expenditures; and 4) protect property tax payers when across-the-board cuts are enacted.
While all property owners will see increased taxes as a result of the state's across-the-board cuts, some will feel the pain immediately. Preliminary data from fiscal year 2009 shows that 133 school districts in the state will not be able to cover the void left by Iowa's 10 percent across-the-board budget cut late last year. Those 133 districts face $115 million in possible property tax increases, according to an analysis by the IFBF.
In a related move, the state legislature decided to postpone setting allowable growth for 2012 until next year. "The legislature's decision to wait until next year to set allowable growth for 2012 makes sense, given the uncertainty surrounding the budget process and today's economy," says Lang.