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January 2009

Steele elected RNC chair, statements from Iowa GOP leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Iowa's three voting members of the Republican National Committee released the following statements upon the election of former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele as RNC chairman.

RPI Chairman Matt Strawn:

"I am excited to work with Chairman Steele to advance our principled agenda, rebuild our party from the grassroots up, and elect Republicans all across Iowa. I am also encouraged by my conversations with Chairman Steele regarding Iowa's First in the Nation presidential status. I will work closely with him to ensure Iowa retains its leading role for the 2012 caucus and beyond"

National Committeeman Steve Scheffler:

"It is a new day. I am thrilled that our newly elected national party chairman, Michael Steele, is going to lead us to once again becoming the majority party--based on enunciating our winning conservative message, a 50 state strategy, and perfecting our technological and fundraising prowess."

National Committeewoman Kim Lehman:

"With sincere honor, I support and congratulate Chairman Steele. I look forward to working with him in the defense of families, our liberties and the security of our country. Chairman Steele has committed, with great clarity, his ability to bring this party back to its greatness, which transcends politics."

Republicans Call on Governor to Freeze Pork Projects

DES MOINES, IA. -- House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) today called for Gov. Culver to freeze all pork spending that has yet to be paid for.

“Republicans are committed to trying to find savings to help our state stay afloat during this tough recession,” said Paulsen. “Frivolous, payback spending has no place in budgets, and if he’s going to be serious about saving the state money, this should be an easy first step for the governor.”

Paulsen specifically points to money allocated for a Dubuque Amtrak station. Though money has been appropriated for the station, there is no Amtrak line that runs through Dubuque. Iowans refer to this as the train station to nowhere.

According to the nonpartisan Fiscal Bureau, the funding for the Dubuque Amtrak station is available and unobligated. Since the contracts have not been signed yet, the state can still recoup that money.

“The governor should take this step to cut out pork projects,” said Paulsen. “We hope he will stand with House Republicans to help cut out wasteful spending, save the state money and put taxpayers before political paybacks.”

This is one step where Republicans are making good on their pledge to dive into budgets to find savings. This savings was found today and must be acted upon quickly.

Governor Culver Releases State Fiscal Year 2010 Budget; $700 Million in Bonding and Property Tax Increases Revealed!

This week at the Statehouse, Governor Culver finally released his proposed budget for the state. While Culver is touting a six-and-a-half percent across the board cut, the numbers do not add up.

For State Fiscal Year 2010, the Governor is recommending a state budget of $6.211 billion, but the Governor's recommendation ends up being an increase of $115.2 million over the previous fiscal year! Governor Culver's recommendation is the largest state budget in Iowa History.

As reported in the First Week of Session Edition of The ITR Watchdog, Governor Culver proposed a $700 million bonding in his Condition of the State Speech. Unfortunately, for Iowa taxpayers, the Governor has not let this idea go, and has made the $700 million borrowing proposal part of his budget recommendations. Taxpayers would be on the hook to pay back these bonds for a $56 million annual payment for the next twenty years.

Iowans for Tax Relief OPPOSES bonding for expenditures which should be funded through other mechanisms. Iowans for Tax Relief prefers plans based on a pay-as-you-go concept for government infrastructure projects.

The Governor claims he is not raising taxes in his budget, but several of his recommendations will increase property taxes. First, cutting the state-funded portion of the Homestead Property Tax Credit, which will increase homeowner's property tax bills. Governor Culver also recommended capping the state-funded portion of allowable growth, which has the potential to shift as much as $40 million to all property taxpayers.

Property Tax Increase #1. Governor Culver has recommended cutting the Homestead Property Tax Credit from $99.3 million to $49.4 million. The Homestead Property Tax Credit was created in 1937 to provide property tax relief and to encourage homeownership. To qualify for the Homestead Property Tax Credit, Iowans must own and occupy a property as a homestead, declare residency in Iowa for income tax purposes, and occupy the property for at least six months each calendar year.

Over the past three years, the Homestead Property Tax Credit has been funded at $99.3 million level. The massive cut to the Homestead Property Tax Credit will directly affect homeowners, who are already not receiving their full property tax credit. This results directly in homeowners property tax bills increasing statewide by nearly $50 million.

The actual value of the credit is equal to the actual levy on the first $4,850 of value of the home. To find out how much your Homestead Property Credit is, look on your property tax statement, which will be mailed to you from your county assessor.

Iowans are encouraged to make smart homeownership decisions and Governor Culver wants to dramatically cut a tool which lowers the Iowa property tax burden, making it harder for all Iowans to stay in their homes.

Property Tax Increase #2. Last year, the Governor recommended and approved 4% allowable growth for school funding. The approval of 4% allowable growth triggered an automatic property tax increase of approximately $47 million.

On Wednesday, Governor Culver also recommended capping the state-funded portion of allowable growth, which has the potential to shift as much as $40 million to private, commercial, and agricultural property taxpayers.

The State will fund allowable growth at approximately $2.531 billion, which equates to the state funding allowable growth at 2% (instead of 4%). The Governor allows school districts to maintain the spending authority under the 4% figure. When state funding is cut, but the spending authority remains, school districts would be allowed to levy property taxes to fill the void left by the state.

This is just the beginning of the budget process, and Iowans for Tax Relief will continue to keep you updated through the weekly Watchdog and Special Edition Watchdogs on Legislative action on the state budget.

Iowa Transparency Act of 2009 Update

The Iowa Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2009, House File 74, continues forward through the Legislative Process.

The bill was referred to the House State Government Committee, and assigned to the subcommittee of Rep. Marcella Frevert (D-Emmetsburg), Rep. Charles Isenhart (D-Dubuque), and Rep. Dawn Pettengill (R-Mt. Auburn).

Iowans for Tax Relief is pleased to see this important legislation move forward. We encourage you to contact your legislator to urge them to move this bill forward. If you are unsure of who your Senator or Representative is, go to our Legislative Lookup on our Website at:

Don't believe a government official who tries to tell you how “good” government is

A nation faced with multiple bailouts, ever-increasing taxes and political scandal, Americans today are witness to how inept, corrupt, intrusive, and expensive big, bloated government truly is.  As well intended as some government officials are, bloated, intrusive government does more harm than good.  Bloated government gets in the way of the ability to create and achieve.


Government is supposed to protect us, not provide for us.


At the federal level, our so-called leaders in Congress have OK'd "bailouts" of failed businesses to the cumulative tune of more than $7 Trillion.  That's your money and what government can’t get from you, well they just print some.  You’ve been asked to prop up repeated failure.  That’s good government?


The state government can spend bundles of your money attempting to attract movie producers to the state, but is facing a budget deficit of more than $700 million.  We’ve got bridges to repair, but let’s put that off and talk to Joe Movie Producer!  That’s good government?


Johnson County government increased its fiscal budget for 2009 more than 13% over 2008 which included pay raises, but can't seem to properly maintain county roads.  Despite significant growth and development in recent years, the Johnson County Supervisors led by Rod Sullivan chose to keep the budget for road maintenance flat.  It's quite likely that the county won't have enough salt and sand to properly address road conditions through the remaining winter season.  Taxpayers are asked to cough up five figures to conduct surveys for land buys, but we likely don’t have enough salt and sand to address roads?  Does that make sense to you? 


Iowa City government can hand out $50,000 to subsidize a theatre (not the first such subsidy either, or the last), they can give the library $10,000 to buy Wii consoles and video games for the kids to check out instead of books, but they can't build let alone staff a much needed fire station. How about those priorities huh?  Government is obligated to entertain us?  Not just no, but hell no!  That’s your money *leaders* are spending.


Iowa City Council member Connie Champion is in favor of passing a local income tax in which she stated the city will need the additional tax to pay for fire and police services.  Are City Council budget decisions inept actions by officials, or is it just arrogant spending?  You decide.


In the words of a caveman, "Build roads good. Clean water good. Police, fire protection good. Fund theatres, dog parks and video games bad, very bad." 


Deficit spending everywhere, bailing out repeated business and non-profit failure, government going socialist in policy, taxes skyrocketing........  Oh, and by the way, Iowa City - run by Democrats.  Johnson County - run by Democrats.  Iowa - run by Democrats.  U.S. House and Senate - run by Democrats. 


How did we find ourselves in such a mess? 


Voter ignorance is one reason.  Another cause for this mess is that too many people have a sick, twisted belief that the government is supposed to provide for our every whim in life.  Buying into every notion that our elected officials try to sell us is dangerous folks!


Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan wrote the following in a recent edition of his newsletter, 'Sullivan's Salvos':    "... I frequently take this opportunity to defend government. I firmly believe that government is inherently good."


The road to hell is paved with good intentions Mr. Sullivan.  And of course he’s going to say that, we give him more than $49,000 a year for his “government is inherently good” part time job. 


In the words of a caveman, "Build roads good. Clean water good. Police, fire protection good. Conduct $18,000 surveys, give elected officials another raise, increase budget for pet projects but not take care of roads bad, very bad." 


We would do better to trust the GEICO caveman to vote with more wisdom than does Connie Champion, Rod Sullivan and their liberal Democrat cohorts.


Despite sour economy County Supervisors to consider giving themselves a raise

The Johnson County Compensation Board last night recommended that the county's elected officials receive a 3 percent pay raise for fiscal year 2010.
If you'll recall, Supervisors fattened up their budget for fiscal 2009 by more than 13% over the previous year, escalating up to approximately $75 million from about $64 million.  Part of that increase included 3.5% pay raises for the likes of Supervisor Rod 'Blago' Sullivan and Auditor Tom 'Hickup' Slockett.  
The vote for this proposed raise was 4-2 in favor of the raise.
Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek wants a pay raise so he can be the fifth highest paid Sheriff in the state......  That's his argument, I work in the fifth highest populated county, so then I should be the fifth highest paid Sheriff in the state......  Pay based on population, as opposed to merit. 
Voting in favor of the raise were Compensation Board members Bill Kapp, Hyman Joseph, Joe Moreland, and Janelle Rettig.
Janelle Rettig if you'll recall, was a co-chair for the vote yes loons on the Conservation Bond issue.    One might ask if there is a little quid pro quo going on here, *thanking* Supervisors Sullivan, Neuzil, and Stutsman for pushing the Conservation Bond issue.
A big thanks goes out to Compensation Board members David Steen and Laura Hahn who voted against the raise.
If you would like to inquire with Janelle Rettig on how she can justify her approval of pay raises in government, when the county Supervisors are most likely facing deficit  spending, considering additional taxation because they can't budget properly - while people in the real world are making tough decisions and getting laid off...
She can be emailed at:

You may also want to consider taking the time to contact the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, who will give the final vote yes or no on this pay raise.  Just copy and paste the following letter, (add your own comments if you like) and then click the links to Supervisor email addresses listed below:




Dear Supervisor,


Given these sour economic times, the wisdom of authorizing a pay raise for elected officials such as yourself, needs to be questioned.

To borrow from a friend who has done some professional level research on this:


In Iowa , State government workers make $1,051 per week, on average.


Private sector worker/owners, in contrast, make an average of only $702 per week, or over $300 less.


The average Federal worker in Iowa makes $1,025, or about $25 per week less than State employees, but still $275 more than the private sector.


Did you realize that?


So at over $49,000 annually, you make more in an official part time role, than your full time counterpart in the private sector. 


When Johnson County residents are facing layoffs, reduced hours, reductions in pay, etc., you need to lead by example.  County government needs to cut back, not grow.


I strongly urge you to vote no on the pay raise.

---------------------------------------- (Vice Chairman)

The economy sucks and the government wants more money.......

JOHNSON COUNTY, IA. -- You either know someone or are someone facing one of these conditions:  Layoffs, salary reductions, going from full time to part time, businesses going out of business.....

And what is area government's reaction to the sour economy?

  1. Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, is promoting a bill in the state legislature that would allow cities to levy a tax on personal income. 
  2. On January 14th, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors proposed members get a 3 percent pay raise in fiscal year 2010.
  3. Iowa City Councilors Connie Champion and Mike O'Donnell favor putting a sales tax option up for referendum as early as March.
  4. The Coralville Mayor and City Council have asked that Iowa City consider putting the local (option) sales tax on the ballot, which opens the door to a county-wide tax.

When your pockets look like rabit ears, the government arrogantly comes knocking on your door for more money!


Do it yourself! Neighborhood association hosts free home maintenance workshop this Saturday

IOWA CITY, IA. -- The Mall Drive Ace Hardware store in Iowa City is partnering with the Grant Wood Neighborhood Association this Saturday, January 31, for a Home Maintenance Training workshop that will provide demonstrations, instructions, and tips from store experts on do-it-yourself electrical, plumbing, and other types of home repair and maintenance projects. The event is scheduled from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Grant Wood Neighborhood Gymnasium, 1930 Lakeside Drive. Afterward, prize drawings will be held for a Skill cordless drill and five $20 Ace Hardware gift certificates, all of which have been donated by the Mall Drive store.

The event is open to the public, and there is no charge to attend. Parents who need childcare in order to participate are asked to call Grant Wood Neighborhood Coordinator Chris Harms at 337-3863 to make arrangements.

The fun continues later in the evening with a Family Night movie, scheduled at 7 p.m. WALL-E, a Disney-Pixar computer-animated creation which follows the adventures of a robot named "WALL-E" and his friend "EVE," is rated "G" for general audiences. It won a 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Film and has been nominated for six Academy Awards. This event is also open to the public at no charge, although children must be accompanied by a parent or an adult guardian. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas and bring a blanket. Popcorn will be available for 50 cents.

The events are sponsored by the Grant Wood Neighborhood Association and the City of Iowa City Office of Neighborhood Services and Parks and Recreation Department. For more information, contact Marcia Bollinger at 356-5237 or e-mail

Editor's Note:  Ok folks, this is a pet peeve......  The item above is promoted as being free.  It's not.

The argument may seem trivial to some, but when you think about it, it's no wonder that so many people don't even have the slightest inkling that government run programs cost money to plan, set-up, conduct and clean up.  There may be a lot of volunteers taking part in a event like this, or music in the park.....  But you paid a city employee to develop this, meeting time, lights, computer, phone, time spent drafting email announcement/promotion, perhaps phone calls to the local papers to make sure they'll run the press release in a timely fashion.....  This event also includes "Movie Night"......  That costs money to put on as well, coming out of the Parks & Recreation department budget......  Is this an abuse of the Parks & Recreation Department's core mission?  The answer to that is yes.  A park is one thing, but is it government's job to entertain us with a movie?  In these sour economic times, is this money wisely spent?
Oh, and parents who need childcare in order to participate are asked to call Grant Wood Neighborhood Coordinator Chris Harms at 337-3863 to make arrangements.......  Does that cost the city (you the taxpayer) money?  An inquiry is being made and we hope to have an answer for you soon.
This is how some of your property tax money is being spent folks.  This is government nanny state stuff.....  This is somebody justifying their city government job..... 
The government is supposed to protect us, not provide for us.  Sponsoring a home repair seminar is not a proper role of city government.  Providing us a place to watch a Walt Disney movie is not a proper role of city government.
Our Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves.......
Meanwhile, our property taxes keep going up, councilors want a city income tax, and County Supervisors want a pay raise.