By Sen. DENNIS BLACK
I can't help but return to some of my thoughts from a few weeks back relative to the devolution of the political system of this nation. This is critical, for unknowingly, the electorate is allowing gridlock that occurs in virtually every state and at the federal level.
I have experienced this gridlock at the Iowa capitol for the past eight years. Prior to that, one could tell a change was in the offing, for the extreme fringe would NOT remotely consider compromise. Today, in fact in a Polk County Republican primary race, one of the candidates stated that if elected he would never compromise with the Democrats. I guess he felt this would get him votes in the district, and in fact it probably will.
The gridlock goes far beyond the social issues that drive so many to say and do such stupid things. It even gets to the issues that will drive the elections this fall, being property taxes, jobs and economy. To a certain extent, property taxes are affected by what the state legislature does or doesn't do. Certainly, in the case of school aid fundinng is the fact that the House would not allow any allowable growth for the districts. The Senate had approved 4 percent. One would think a reasonable couse of action would be to compromise at 2 percent, a proposal made by the Senate for the Conference Committee report. No way! "Cut the fat," was the battle cry of the House Majority. Well, folks, it wasn't because the state didn't have the funds, which if approved would have saved you an inevitable property tax increase in the future.
And speaking of state funds, the coffers are bulging at the seams. The best way to utilize some of this is by funding allowable growth for schools, and have the state fully fund the property tax credits, i.e. Homestead, Forest, Wetland, etc. We can afford it, which is simply returning some of the money to those who paid it in taxes in the first place!
This week's good news was the reality that the state collected a record $794.5 million in taxes in May. In addition, state tax collections over the past 11 months were running more than 6 percent ahead of the same period a year ago.
State sales tax receipts in May were nearly 8 percent higher than May of last year, and personal income tax payments to the state were just under 5 percent ahead of 2011. As such, the state will add to its healthy surplus by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. With this unexpected windfall, perhaps we can get back to cleaning up our water, have incentives for saving the soil, provide some property tax relief to small businesses, and eliminate the need for local governments to consider property tax increases.
Compromise is not a dirty word. But, don't believe for a second that the results of this year's election will result in any change. Only you can do that by demanding that those who serve you in this Republic be pragmatic in their votes and strive to work across the aisle for the well-being of a highly stressed state, nation and world.
You can always call me at 515-975-8608 or email dblack(at sign)black4senate.com.